PSG: The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One StepBy: Brian | November 8th, 2009
‘Twas the night before the season began, and I had visions of trophies dancing in my head. OK, so that’s not exactly how it goes, but I don’t claim to be a poet. And if you looked at our friendly results, you might think I was crazy.
First, you’ll notice I have established the Bastille Day Cup, held on July 13th and 14th. Each year I’ll invite 3 of the world’s top teams and we’ll square off at the Parc des Princes. I think it’s important to challenge the team during friendlies, and I’m also not dumb enough to turn down the chance at a €2m payout for two days of ultimately meaningless work. We will win one eventually.
In each friendly, I played the first eleven in the first half, and replaced everyone for the second. Even doing that, I think we acquitted ourselves quite well. Our only real embarrassment of a showing was against Valencia, where Villa had a hat trick and Makélélé got himself sent off with a straight red. We took Liverpool to penalties, lost on a one in a million goal away to Atletico Madrid, scored two goals with ten men and only one CB against Deinze, and held leads against Hoffenheim and Sporting with our second team. The results don’t show it, but I felt hopeful after all of those matches. More importantly, they gave the team time to get acclimated to each other and to my tactics.
Here’s the formation I’ve settled on, and my tactical file
With the extra €6m infusion the board so generously gave me, I began a search for a decent attacking left back and backup for Makélélé. I haven’t found the left back yet, thwarted at various times by injury, role/wage demands, and Marek Jankulovski’s refusal to join up on loan. My brilliant scouting network did bring back some excellent news, though. Etienne Capoue, one of Toulouse’s two excellent young defensive midfielders and the captain of France’s U-21 side, had his valuation dropped from €15m to about €6m. I snapped him up for €5.75. Won’t you welcome him?
I also couldn’t resist Dimitri Daeseleire at €1.1m
My final one or two transfer plans are these. Christian Fuchs, Bochum’s left back, is recovering from a broken rib, and if he can start light training again, I’ll snap him up. OR, and this is a big OR and the coup I mentioned previously, roughly the same scenario applies to Gabriel Milito, who would immediately become the best defender in the squad. But he might be too far away from training for me to have an opportunity. We’ll see.
In my season opener press conference, I predicted that we would win the league this season. I was upset to find out that my players didn’t take this well, because someone has to believe, right? I also promised attacking football, refused to discuss transfer matters in a press conference (something I will always do), and also had no comment about Souleymane Camara’s potential as a threat in our opening match away to Montpellier. I only talk about my players, I never criticize the opposition’s players, and I always keep internal business internal.
How did that match go? BEAUTIFULLY. We started out with this lineup, with Grondin, Ceará, Ngoyi (Tolói wasn’t fit), Clement, Sessegnon, Adrien, and Giuly on the bench:
van der Vaart got his head on Jallet cross in the seventh minute to make it 1-0 in our favor. Milevskyi did the same 10 minutes later, and I was practically giddy on the sideline. In the 27th minute, Koné took the ball into the box, but had his shot blocked. The ball fell to vdV, who had his shot blocked, and the ball was kicked around until Artem got it on his foot and put it away for his second. 3-0. I looked over at René Girard and gave him a Jordan shoulder shrug®. Just before the end of the half, they knocked the ball out of their area, where it fell to Armand. Armand passed it forward to Chantome, no one closed him down, and his “why not?” rocket ricocheted off Jourden and in. 4-0. In the dressing room I told them not to let up, but shortly after the second half began I yelled from the touchline for them to drop deeper and keep possession, and the game ended 4-0. But a 4-0 away victory in my managerial debut with 7 starters making their debuts. That’s either monumental or karma is going to turn around and slap me soon.
Our second match of the season was at home against Le Mans, and I was worried that the pimp hand of karma, strong as it is, might see fit to embarrass me at the Parc des Princes. I wanted to go with a more attacking lineup, so I brought in Sessegnon for Chantome, and Giuly for Erdinç. Giuly volleyed in an Armand cross in the 16th minute, Milevskyi bagged another goal in the 20th on a Giuly assist, and vdV converted another header in the 37th, for a first half score of 3-0. The second half went much the same as it had against Montpellier, until a freak incident. Didier Ovono, their keeper, took a freekick after an offsides and booted all the way down the pitch, where Olivier Giroud met it with his head and caught Coupet off his line, netting Le Mans their only consolation with a 20 yard header.
So far this season, Giroud’s goal has been the one blemish on an otherwise perfect start. I guess I’m mildly concerned at our failure to score a second half goal thus far, but with scores of 4-0 and 3-0 at halftime, I’m hoping the team is more concerned with keeping the ball out of our net than they are with putting it in the opposition’s again.
Upcoming Fixtures: Valenciennes (Away), Lille (Home), Monaco (Away).
Injury Report: Jallet picked up a groin strain against Le Mans, and is out of training for 11-14 days; Edel is out with a twisted ankle, also for 11-14 days; Mateus is back in training after a back strain picked up in training, and should be fully fit in 1-3 days; Zoumana Camara’s torn calf muscle will have him out for 3-7 weeks; and Guillaume Hoarau and Younousse Sankharé returned to full training just before the Le Mans match, and I plan on having Hoarau available against Valenciennes, but probably not starting.
My questions to you: how am I doing? I’m thinking my midfield should be vdV-Makélélé-Chantome whenever possible, as Sessegnon is almost a copy of vdV and I would prefer to have at least two players in midfield interested in playing defense. If that’s the case, I’ll hang onto Sessegnon as injury insurance until at least January, and then based on how things stand I might cash in on him. Any other thoughts/recommendations? Re: players, I can’t sign another non-EU player without selling Ceará, as he was the only one in the squad before Otamendi, Tolói, and Mateus.
Peon Update: He told me he was planning a trip to visit America and wanted to know where to visit. I told him Delaware was nice.