Bullish Blanc plays up PSG title triumph
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc insisted his team deserve to be lavished with praise for their performance in retaining the Ligue 1 title despite stumbling towards the finish line in recent weeks.
PSG were crowned champions on Wednesday with three games to spare after nearest challengers Monaco only managed a 1-1 draw with Guingamp, but they were then beaten 2-1 at home by Rennes, a result that left the capital club with just one win from their last four matches.
Blanc`s side have struggled since their elimination from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage to Chelsea last month, but the coach refused to criticise his players.
"It was disappointing to lose the game but I hope we can get a few more points between now and the end of the season to beat the Ligue 1 points record," said Blanc, whose side took the lead against Rennes through an early Ezequiel Lavezzi goal only to find themselves behind before half-time.
"I think this team deserves to be in the record books, but to do that we will need to get points against Lille and Montpellier (in their last two matches)."
PSG are only one point away from equalling Lyon`s all-time Ligue 1 record tally of 84, set in 2006, while they have also won the season-opening Champions Trophy and the League Cup.
And Blanc, who did not appear before the press at the Parc des Princes until well after midnight after celebrating the title win with his squad, is frustrated that so much emphasis has been placed on their European disappointment.
"Everyone keeps thinking about our elimination from Europe," he said. "It is a competition we want to win in the future and if everyone tries to improve we can make progress in the Champions League.
"I get the impression that our season is only measured on what we have done in Europe. It is a bit simplistic. Other teams were knocked out before us, like Manchester City for example.
"I feel that the national title is maybe a little underestimated."
For Blanc it is a second Ligue 1 crown as a coach after he led Bordeaux to glory in 2009, and he says that this one means just as much, despite his current side`s huge resources.
"I appreciate this one a lot because at the start of the season everyone thought you could name anybody as coach and PSG would win the title, but we needed to convince the players to follow our philosophy. The players are important but so are the backroom staff," he said.Meanwhile, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi expressed his delight at wrapping up the title and insisted that impending sanctions from European football`s governing body UEFA in relation to their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules will not prevent the French capital side from making an impact next season.
"I am very happy and very proud," the Qatari told Canal Plus television. "We have had a really excellent season. I think it`s been better than last year, with the results we`ve had and also the quality of football."
After confirming that Blanc would be staying on as coach, Al-Khelaifi said that PSG would get round the different sanctions set to fall on them for not falling in line with FFP.
"We are in discussions with UEFA," he said. "I am not confirming the punishments. We will play the Champions League, possibly with certain conditions. But we will continue with our project and nobody will be able to stop us. Our dream continues."
PSG will only be able to name 21 players in their Champions League squad for next season, rather than the usual 25, and will have to effectively pay a fine of 60 million euros ($83.5m, £49.2m) over three years, a source has told AFP, with money due to them from television rights and Champions League prize money being held back.
In addition, PSG will not be allowed to spend more on salaries than their current bill of 230 million euros and will only be allowed to sign one player this summer, for a maximum of 60 million euros.