Saturday, December 9, 2023

Luis Enrique, in the eye of the hurricane

Everything is excessive in a Paris Saint-Germain that bets so high that the slightest setback generates detonations. The heavy defeat in the Champions League against Newcastle (4-1) has caused the first explosions, with one name in the spotlight, coach Luis Enrique.

Although it is premature to talk about a crisis, the first alarm signals have gone off in the club, which has made the worst start to the league since the Qataris landed in 2011 with their briefcases full of dollars (12 points in seven games) and one of the worst defeats stuck in the Champions League.

In his first nine games in charge of the club, the Spanish coach has recorded four wins, three draws and two losses.

Luis Enrique still has credit, because nothing is lost in just over a month of competition, but he has already left behind part of what the former Spanish coach brought, accused in the first person of being responsible for the humiliation at Saint James Park.

PSG was surpassed by a Newcastle that had not received a rival of that stature in its stadium in the top continental competition for 21 years.

Neither the coach knew how to react to stop the catastrophe, nor did any leader emerge from the field capable of provoking a reaction of pride.

But the coach was in charge of attracting all the spotlight to his figure by ensuring that he was “the only one responsible” for the defeat, which he considered too heavy for what had been seen on the field.

An assumption of responsibilities that has not earned him the mercy of the press, which attacks his decision to bet on a system with four forwards that already showed its shortcomings last Saturday against Clermont-Ferrand, bottom of the championship at the time, to whom they were not capable of scoring a goal.

Accumulating forwards against a modest team was not the solution, despite the fact that PSG then added a multitude of chances.

But against a bigger rival like Newcastle, it turned out to be lethal, because the English managed to suffocate the midfield, in which the Uruguayan Manuel Ugarte and the Frenchman Warren Zaire-Emery had enough to bail out without worrying about creating a game. .

Not content with seeing his system founder, Luis Enrique persisted in it, he persisted in error, according to several French newspapers, incapable of providing solutions to a failure that was obvious.

A sign that things are not going well, Luis Enrique’s subsequent press conference showed some of the usual symptoms of tension characteristic of the coach in his different positions in Spain, which for now had not emerged since he landed in Paris. The honeymoon with French journalists seems to be beginning to end.

Lack of pride. If the solutions did not come from the bench, they were not found on the playing field either, where PSG is beginning to show symptoms of the same illness that has plagued it for years: the lack of a soul that embodies the constellation of stars.

The name of Kylian Mbappé immediately appears there, called to be the star of the team, but who disappears at key moments.

The forward, a key man in this PSG, as in recent years, is not in good shape, possibly because of the month he spent in the dry dock during the preseason when he had a fight with his direction for the saint of his future. .

In Newcastle he gave another example that he does not adapt to a system with so many attackers and that he was forced to go down to the creation line, moving away from the lethal zone, without this giving positive results.

He barely created a chance and did not generate any for his teammates, who were seen very little, with the exception of Ousmane Dembelé, the most active in offensive creation, but who demonstrated a worrying inefficiency that is in line with what he has been showing throughout the entire season. season.

Randal Kolo-Muani, signed at a bargain price, is beginning to wear out the fans’ patience, while Gonçalo Ramos cannot find his place in a team that is too large.

With the lead inoperative, it was a defender, Lucas Hernandez, who scored the goal of honor.

The captain, the Brazilian Marquinhos, the other name that could spur the troops on in the most difficult moments, was overwhelmed after the error that cost his team the first goal.


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