Ancelotti: PSG have to be champions
Paris Saint-Germain manager Carlo Ancelotti has admitted he will only have himself to blame if the club do not win the Ligue 1 title this season.
Ancelotti, 53, took over in the French capital just over a year ago after his predecessor, Antoine Kombouare, had steered the club to the top of the table.
The Italian saw Montpellier ease past his team in the finishing straight to claim the French crown last May, but after another big-spending summer, which saw the likes of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic added to his squad, Ancelotti is aware there can be no repeat of last season.
"We have to be champions. The team has the qualities to win. If the coach does a good job, PSG will win. Everything depends on the coach," he told RMC radio. "If PSG aren't champions, it'll be a failure. But it's never easy, be it in Italy, England or France. You have to battle, especially when you change many things and work differently. The mentality of the players and all those who work in the club had to be changed."
Ancelotti must have thought he had succeeded in doing that as his team rattled off four straight league wins to round off 2012 and head into the winter break top of the table. However, a shaky Coupe de France win over amateur side Arras and a draining goalless draw with Ajaccio in their first Ligue 1 game of 2013 suggested there is still work to be done, particularly with Lyon leapfrogging them into top spot.
Though the vast sums spent on his squad have raised expectations that a first Ligue 1 title since 1994 will be coming to the Parc des Princes, and consequently increased the pressure on his shoulders, Ancelotti insists he is enjoying his first foray into French football.
"I've never regretted signing for PSG. I thought a lot about it before signing. The project is fantastic, and contrary to what many people say, I didn't come for the money. I like working, especially building beautiful things here in Paris," he said. "Last season wasn't easy as we had problems. That happens when a club is building a new team. There is a new style of play, a new identity."
The pace at which the new-look PSG is being shaped is slowing, with only Lucas Moura added to the squad in the January transfer window - albeit at a cost of €40 million - while Nene and Guillaume Hoarau left after becoming victims of the increasingly ferocious competition for places.
"I don't think it'll create tension. When I was a player, I was happy to play alongside quality players. When Rijkaard came to AC Milan, he sometimes took my place in midfield. I was happy, though, because with him, Van Basten and Gullit, I had more chance of winning the Champions League," said Ancelotti, who believes European club football's ultimate prize must also be part of PSG's ambitions, though perhaps not this year.
"It's easier to win the league. No-one can know what we'll do in the Champions League. In the future, winning it must be one of the club's main objectives. This year, we have to pick up experience as there are many players who haven't played in it. It's a transition year. We're in the last 16 and we'll give it all we can."
One man who will not be helping them in their quest to overcome Valencia and reach the quarter-finals of the competition is former Champions League winner Nicolas Anelka, who has been training with PSG prior to the resumption of the Chinese season with his club, Shanghai Shenhua. His reunion with his former Chelsea coach originally started tongues wagging that the forward was set for a third spell at PSG.