PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain, as widely predicted, have sacked coach Antoine Kombouare despite having ended the ‘autumn season’ at the top of the French league writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Kombouare had been under pressure all season because of expectations that the club’s new Qatari owners would be looking for sports director Leonardo to bring in a more mediatique coach. Kombouare could hardly have done much better in bringing PSG through to top spot but every slip along the way has been laid at his door including, most notably, the failure of expensive summer signing Javier Pastore to fulfil his £23m potential.
It is understood the decision had been taken before Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne which lifted PSG above previous league leaders Montpellier. Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier conceded an unlucky own goal after Mathieu Bodmer headed against a post and saw the ball ricochet off the keeper’s hand in the 32nd minute to give PSG 40 points from 19 games. Three points adrift are Montpellier who lost 4-2 at Evian Thonon.
Italian Carlo Ancelotti, sacked by English Premier League club Chelsea in the summer, has been linked with PSG (with Claude Makelele as a sort of ‘French Ray Wilkins’). Leonardo was a player and later managerial colleague alongside him at Milan. However, Ancelotti has insisted that his ideal route back into management would be with a top club in England.
However he may be persuaded into second thought in witnessing the heavyweight financial support coming from Qatar which is expected to bring ex-England captain David Beckham on board at the Parc des Princes for the second half of the season.
Beckham’s aides have insisted that he remains undecided and that staying with Los Angeles Galax is still a possibility. However all French football will be amazed if Beckham is not playing in France in the spring in preparation for taking an over-age playing role with Team GB and the London 2012 Olympic Games.
If all this is not persuasuve enough for Ancelotti then other contenders could include former Milan midfielder and Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard.
Kombouare, born in New Caledonia on November 16, 1963, had an outstanding league career in France as a defender with Nantes, Toulon and PSG. He also had spells with FC Sion in Switzerland and with Aberdeen in Scotland.
After retiring, Kombouare’s coaching career saw him progress via Strasbourg and Valenciennes to PSG in the spring of 2009 after the departure of Paul Le Guen. PSG won the French cup under Kombouare in 2010 but nothing last term.