Paris is a party, but the party is sometimes sad and the guests don’t have the heart to toast. Saturday April 23, Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) validated their title of champion of France despite a draw against Lens (1-1) during the 34and day of Ligue 1. With this tenth coronation, the club joined AS Saint-Etienne at the top of French football, but the statistics left part of the public at the Parc des Princes cold.
There was a thrill with Lionel Messi’s splendid opener (68and), but the Lensois – reduced to ten – equalized through Corentin Jean (89and) and quickly dampened the enthusiasm. As expected, the Auteuil corner – where the club’s ultras are grouped – welcomed the new title with a mixture of indifference and defiance.
“We try to have fun, too bad if it’s not with the supporters”, let go Marquinhos, an annoyed captain at the microphone of Canal +. Messi, he had already gone to the locker room. Move on, there’s nothing to celebrate, or at least inside the stadium.
Friday evening, in a statementthe Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) had proposed to its members to leave the Auteuil stand “from the 75and minute if the score is in our favour” for a counter-party organized outside the enclosure. In its own way, the CUP – in conflict with the management of PSG for several weeks – responded to Mauricio Pochettino’s request not to underestimate the value of this new champion crown. “Winning a national title is something that has value because, when you don’t win it, it becomes a big problem”, developed the Argentine coach a few hours earlier in a press conference.
As announced the @Co_Ultras_Paris has left the Auteuil stand. #PSGRCL @francebleuparis @francebleusport #FBsport https://t.co/xbn19wGPzr
In the history of PSG, there are those of 1986 and 1994, and the others. Because they are the first, they keep this taste of rarity for a club rather in love with cups and angry with the concept of continuous control required by a championship at thirty-eight days. But since 2011 and the start of the Qatar Sport Investements (QSI) era, the Parisians have lifted France eight times.
For a club with disproportionate means on a national scale, the title of champion of France has become a lesser evil. Even in the mind of many of its supporters. However, there have been “accidents”, as in 2012 against Montpellier with a filled and discolored president Louis Nicollin in orange and blue. Five years later, it was time for a weightless Monaco led by a barely legal Kylian Mbappé. A year ago, a realistic Lille thwarted logic.
This season, the competition has been too weak or inconsistent to maintain any semblance of suspense. Marseille never looked higher than second place, Rennes had too many air pockets despite the best game in the championship, Monaco woke up too late and Lyon remained a mirage until the end.
In short, PSG did not have to force their talent and they did not really try. That of Mbappé (twenty-two goals and fourteen assists) was often enough and put the dust under the carpet, that of a team without identity or intensity, capable of stringing together four draws (often happy) in five games between December 2021 and January. “We are looking for our game identity with the players and the talents we have”then admitted in an interview with The Team Mauricio Pochettino.
At the time, the technician had finally found a pied-à-terre in the 8and district after a year at the hotel. If he had finished his life at Michel Polnareff, he gave more than ever the impression of not occupying the function. The former defender tried to ask his men for more generosity, to establish his authority. A black and incredulous look from Lionel Messi – replaced at the end of the match against Lyon during the 6and day – dissuaded him for good from going against statutes and privileges in a workforce built on them.
“Am I still a coach or am I a sports politician, a sports minister? », wondered his predecessor, Thomas Tuchel. Three days later, the German was fired. Pochettino is not yet, but since the elimination against Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League, his fate seems sealed and the name of the Italian Antonio Conte is already circulating insistently.
Almost everyone has already forgotten that their PSG marched on Real for three halves before an unlikely collapse following the error of their goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma. With a little lead, PSG ended their season on March 9 at the Bernabeu stadium. A few days later, Messi and Neymar were whistled by the Auteuil corner when receiving Bordeaux. Beyond their person or their current level of play, it was the club’s sporting strategy (or rather marketing, according to the ultras) that was targeted.
The title celebrated on May 21 against Metz
At the same time, the CUP released Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, president then spared for having favored the return of the ultras to the Park. Too often absent, the Qatari would no longer be ” The man for the job “ and the CUP lamented “a stack of stars” and the “senator rhythm” in the championship.
Already eliminated in the Coupe de France, PSG was looking for meaning at the end of the season. The supporters demanded playing time for the kids from the academy, but Pochettino gave crumbs to Edouard Michu and Xavi Simons. Kylian Mbappé always took care of his statistics and has since maintained the hope of a contract extension.
In a certain indifference, Paris corrected Lorient (5-1), Clermont (6-0), Angers (3-0), which, basically, only reinforced the idea that this team was strong against the weak and when it suited him. Neymar offered a glimpse of a talent already given as declining. Seen from Doha, we find that the account is not there (500 million euros invested in him in five years) and the Brazilian annoys when he confides on Twitch his desires for America and MLS, “where you have three or four months of vacation”.
He and his teammates are not yet officially. But it’s already like, with the last four days as an end-of-season pot. Their management decided to wait until May 21 and the reception of the last, FC Metz, to officially celebrate their champions. In terms of celebration, it’s always better than the ninth title acquired on April 30, 2020, at the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic, after receiving a press release from the LFP formalizing the premature end of the season. But for the passion and fervor, we will probably come back.