Leonardo: Coach Kombouare’s job safe despite loss

Despite Paris Saint-Germain’s crushing defeat to bitter rival

Marseille, its second straight loss without even scoring a goal,

the club’s sporting director Leonardo insists that coach Antoine

Kombouare’s job is safe.

Big-spending PSG has not won in three league games, and has

managed only two goals in its last four games overall, increasing

the pressure on Kombouare after Sunday’s embarrassing 3-0 defeat

away to Marseille.

”I’ve never brought it up for discussion whether he stays here

or not. He remains the coach,” Leonardo said. ”It’s a tough loss,

but it doesn’t change our thinking about the team and the

league.”

PSG has been linked with former Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti in

recent weeks, with Leonardo even admitting he had met with

Ancelotti in Paris, but saying no offer was made to the Italian,

who twice took AC Milan to Champions League success.

The manner of Sunday’s defeat was particularly alarming for PSG,

however, with its expensive collection of players unable to stand

up to Marseille’s robust approach.

”We’re really gutted,” Kombouare said after the game. ”We had

time to get back into the game. But we were nonexistent in terms of

the impact and in the challenges. Things become difficult when you

can’t stand up to a physical challenge.”

PSG has wealthy Qatari backers and spent ?82 million ($116

million) this season – including ?42 million ($60 million) on the

22-year-old midfielder Javier Pastore, an Argentina international.

Pastore’s form has fallen off after a bright start with the

club.

PSG is in second place, three points behind Montpellier – which

has spent a fraction of PSG’s huge outlay, but has a tremendous

team spirit and work ethic that appears to be absent at PSG.

Kombouare refused to take sole responsibility for the defeat,

urging his players to show more bite.

”Marseille has something we don’t have: grit, passion, the

capacity to hurt in the tackle,” Kombouare said. ”They were

sometimes borderline (tackles), but that’s football.”

He added that it was a ”collective failure” and refused to

single out Pastore for blame because ”everyone has to sweep up in

front of their own door.”

Montpellier’s mix of aspiring, talented homegrown players and

hard-working veterans, allied to the sharp finishing of striker

Olivier Giroud and the superb passing of Younes Belhanda, has

proved successful for coach Rene Girard’s side.

Giroud, who recently broke into the France team, scored a hat

trick to lead Montpellier to a 3-1 win at Sochaux on Saturday. He

cost Montpellier just ?2 million ($2.83 million) when he joined

from second-division Tours two years ago.

PSG’s top scorer Kevin Gameiro has not scored in his last nine

matches and was taken off against Marseille midway through the

second half, along with the sluggish Pastore – who had another

disappointing game.

PSG’s next two matches are crucial and may go a long way to

deciding whether Kombouare stays beyond the winter break, when the

league takes its annual holiday over Christmas and the New

year.

PSG is at Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League on Thursday,

and then hosts Auxerre at Parc des Princes on Sunday.

”I still believe in my players,” Kombouare said. ”However,

I’m waiting for confirmation.”