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
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
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
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
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.”