The question was intended to be harmless, a minimum journalistic service intended to put something in a box, pre-chewed, pre-digested, pre-forgotten: “Say, what did you think of the match?” It was last Wednesday in a hall of the Groupama Stadium in Décines, Paris-SG had just spent five (5-1) at Olympique Lyonnais in the Cup semi-finals and the Parisian coach Thomas Tuchel, decided as often to take the question as if he had heard it, and even understood it. “Hmm …”
Lack of common purpose
The Swabian rubbed his chin. “I had the impression that we always played with confidence, that is to say with the idea that we can always decide the fate of a match in a few minutes, on an action, with Kylian, Ney [Neymar], Pablo [Sarabia], Icardi and Cavani… Kylian and Ney are very strong when they play together. And it seems to me that you can feel that the team knows that. As a result, she loses neither patience nor confidence. ” It is wrong not to listen to these guys. The truth is always hidden somewhere. That evening, Tuchel had found his fighting players, concentrated, involved in the duels. However, he brought the Paris team back to its deepest nature: nine guys waiting patiently for the two offensive superstars to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Individual pruritus, which weighs tons on the shoulders of Mbappé and Neymar while inoculating the slow poison of passivity in others. If Mbappé leaves Paris-SG for Real Madrid this summer (or the following summer), we wish him courage: for always having thought that the salvation of the teams where he played was first of all through his personal performance, and this since he was a kid, he will never be as much in his place as in this PSG, entirely turned towards his person.
Beaten in the first leg in Germany by a score (1-2) which statistically leaves him a chance on two to see the quarter-finals of the Champions League in April, Paris-SG will play its season Wednesday at the Parc des Princes in behind closed doors against Borussia Dortmund. Beyond the chaos and contingencies linked to the coronavirus, the approach of this XXL meeting has violently illuminated the play that is being played: the viscerally – and structurally – individual nature of the Parisian project.
In contradiction with a queen competition which, Expendables at the end of the rope from Chelsea in 2012 to Liverpool last season, passing through Real Madrid who knew how to do everything and its opposite, has always been approached by its winners as a collective adventure. We have talked a lot since 2011 and the arrival of Qatari capital on the inability of the capital’s club to assume its pharaonic means (630 million estimated for the current season) on the European front: difficulty in creating a favorable environment around matches because of its young history (Release February 14, 2018), inability to advance players (Release from April 29, 2019), unhealthy pressure because extra-sport exercising on the same (Release February 18), “Ghosts” mentioned by sports director Leonardo since the derouille (1-6) received in Barcelona in 2017…
However, we had forgotten a load-bearing wall, if we can say: the absence of a common design, except to think that putting your marketing bridgeheads in the window (Zlatan Ibrahimovic yesterday, Neymar and Mbappé since 2017) is sufficiently “concerning” for friends. However the last three weeks have seen each other’s individual strategies come out like devils from as many boxes, as if the bad wind from the “negativity” (Leonardo) urged the actors to protect themselves from the outside (you and me) in anticipation of a possible boxwood blow.
Psychodrama in Mondovision
The most improbable: the Belgian Thomas Meunier, suspended for the return after a yellow card on the way out, explaining to the press of his country not to have been informed by the staff of the threat which hung over him in the event of new Warning. An info which, by the way, was in all the newspapers the morning of the match: “This is not the first time that we have caught him playing solo , mourned a club employee. It will end up being seen. “
We go up one floor: Neymar, who had publicly disassociated himself from the management of his own case – he had been kept cool three weeks as a precaution – before the first leg before offering Décines the breathtaking spectacle last Wednesday. ‘a player who doesn’t care about everything, then injured, then no longer injured (?), then decisive. As it would have deprived the club of the capital of its master to play three seasons in a row at the same stage of the competition, an injury would have balanced between the psychodrama in Mondovision and the state affair: one can imagine the stress of Parisian officials until ‘in Doha when Augustus made his carnival, a sulky and vaguely farce demonstration of a Neymar testing his player power is not to be excluded. During the performance, Tuchel remained marble.
Maybe he didn’t care. Or that he was not fooled. The Parisian coach follows his course of action: the question is which one. At the edge of the grass, Tuchel’s idea was to give Neymar playing time to allow him to recover the rhythm of high competition: it’s clean, neat, football. On the other hand, the attitudes or public speaking of the German coach question, including internally: not the expression of this loneliness that accompanies all Parisian coaches (Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery and him) since Qatar launched a star policy in 2012 but a sort of distance, as if this story was no longer entirely his own.
At these altitudes, the difference is as subtle as the touch of a dragonfly wing: if no one thinks that Tuchel, at the end of the contract, will gladly take the door next June, it is to believe that he begins to dress a forced departure to his advantage. Why return again and again to his inability to give playing time to Neymar before the trip to Dortmund, at the risk of updating his disagreement with his management?
He certainly doesn’t like to lie – he’s the only one. But then, why go to the physical contact of a Mbappé furious at being replaced on 1er February at the reception of Montpellier (5-0) to pick up an ultra-predictable rebuff from his star rather than settle it quietly between four eyes? Mbappé was demolished on social networks after the incident on the double front of selfishness (a player who leaves, it is a teammate who returns and takes the match bonus) and the feeling of impunity which goes with: beyond his own weakness, Tuchel has staged the omnipotence of the player, that is to say the ethos of the Parisian club since the arrival of the Qataris in 2011. That the German coach l wanted it or not, that message got through.
Small individual strategy
And the message telling him that he does not enter into his management plans beyond the current season also passed: it took a question asked by a journalist last week for Tuchel to learn of the veto put by his management in Mbappé, eager to participate in the Olympic Games (July 24-August 9) not appearing among the dates made available to internationals by the clubs.
Which Mbappé, a little rag on Twitter towards the supporters of the club which he judges prompt to insult, does not train for three days by the fault of an angina: in the event of misfortune against Dortmund, one imagines that the the time trial of the player will structure the story of a cursed club in the brambles because a bat fiddled with pangolin in a cave in the Chinese province of Hubei, depriving a team at the end of the chain at 630 million d public budget. The last three weeks have however brought to light a very different reality: that of a team having to pick up the thread of a common history that has not existed since the end of the enlightened dictatorship (everyone found it almost there) of Ibrahimovic in 2016 and gather, for example, on the ground, an atomized club, all with ulterior motives, where everyone develops their own individual strategy. There will be no banners, supporters, encouragement, or anything: a metaphor for the loneliness of the Parisian player yesterday and today. Not easy anyway.