Easy on Tuchel’s PSG. We are just at the beginning.

2018-09-19 Francia bajnokság Comments (0) 841

One of the finest football writers, Jonathan Wilson tackled with stretched feet and a spare body check PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, and generally the whole Parisian project.

His charges:

– 750M € were spent in recent years, but no world-dominant team has been built up
– Half of the team run half-hearted while wearing a pleasant Jordan-patched jersey
– PSG is dominant in France, but neglects Europe in their comfort
– Tuchel’s style never reflected on the team, especially on yesterday’s formation
– Liverpool offered chances to PSG to come back on the score, not the other way around
– PSG cannot play so cowardly on his own half, even as a visitor on Anfield

With all due respect, I think Wilson is quite harsh at this moment.

These arguments would completely hit hard if we saw such monstrosity in April 2019, or worse, in the sprint of 2020. Although criticizing a coach who has been appointed for 2 months is a bit exaggerated.

What I see differently:

1) Patience is what Tuchel and his staff (including Lőw Zsolt) drew precisely and consistently from the beginning. They did not entered the game as Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, making a pass record in their 3rd match. They have been waiting: they observed, recorded and changed slightly. For a considerable time, nothing happened – the team coached together, but the old formula remained. There have been a few experiences since then, we can guess some pre-conceptual tactics (“Let’s give more space to Neymar”; “Somehow we should make up the loss of Verratti!”). Of course, every coach plays this card at first, but Tuchel made it clear it’s a conscious element: not an excuse to hide behind, but a part of his strategy.

2) Against Liverpool Tuchel returned to a classic 4-3-3 which had not been used so far. According to his post-match statement, he wanted to build on his team’s automation. It’s wasn’t time to apply new systems in the CL finalist’s home. This can be interpreted as cowardice, although the security-based approach minimized losses. It was close to be a winning bet.

3) If there is any room for critiques, it’s the fact that Tuchel had not made any hard decisions so far. He left open the goalkeeper-hierarchy, whispering to Areola’s ear he was his first choice, but did it all before Buffon had arrived. He did not form a core of leaders he can definitely trust, but followed the dressing room dynamism and the squad’s aptitude. My personal belief is that over time he will need to put his chips where his beliefs will drive, cutting the cord and restructure the Neymar-Cavani-Mbappé trident or the dysfunctional midfield composed with Verratti and Rabiot. Emery has fallen into this: too many compromises were taken, too many requests had to be met, and at the end, no room remained to maneuver. In the absence of consequences, the dressing room did not seriously take his words. This is a valid risk for Tuchel.

4) It was slightly mentionned, but PSG summer transfer was a complete disaster on the arrival side. Mostly B and C options were confirmed for missing positons (Choupo-Moting, Bernat, Kehrer) and the biggest hole symply remained uncovered: Thiago Motta left an quite empty space. Tuchel had nothing left, but tinker and cobble, like Marquinhos in the center, some youngling-options or Di María as a holding midfileder. If Tuchel continues to point at Paris’ leadership for some of these failures, it will mean two things: even there are irreperable operational differences in the organisation causing a decision-making paralysis, or simply Tuchel does not take responsibility for his actions and always will keep returning there as a refuge. Certainly, no one can be proud of the summer buyings and Paris will need to work on their recruitment process.

It would be unfair for Tuchel to accuse PSG’s “past eight years” (Hungarian term for the pre-Fidesz political era of 2002-2010), but the time is not right to evaluate his results after five championship matches (all won) and a hefty Liverpool-performance.

Rather, soonly we will see key-points where he could have made different decisions.


Christophe Szabó