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Jun 24, 2013

Pires backs Blanc for PSG post

Robert Pires has backed his former international team-mate Laurent Blanc to keep Paris Saint-Germain's reputedly volatile dressing room in check and "put right the mistakes he made with the French national team."

• 'Laurent to get Blanc cheque'

Blanc has been out of work since a two-year stint in charge of France ended with a Euro 2012 quarter-final exit to Spain after a tournament during which the squad's indiscipline on and off the pitch left a sour taste in the mouths of French football fans.

The former international defender, 47, is due in Paris on Monday for talks to set the seal on his appointment as successor to Carlo Ancelotti at the Parc des Princes, and Pires, 39, told RMC Blanc's tenure at the head of his nation's team will have given him an inkling as to how he must adapt his approach when it comes to handling the personalities packed into the PSG squad.

The former Arsenal man stated: "With the French team he certainly made mistakes. But he knows that, he's aware of that. It's certainly going to be a lesson to him. He knows that PSG are very strong and have big characters. It's up to him to handle the dressing-room well.

"The question is whether or not he can do that. I think he can, because he has experience. He's a young coach, but he knows what winning means. He proved it as a player and at Bordeaux. I think it's good news for PSG. He also knows that there will be big expectations of him."

Though Blanc met PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi in Paris in late May, the ex-Bordeaux coach, who won Ligue 1 with Les Girondins in 2008-09, was some way down the club's list of preferred successors to Ancelotti, 54, who requested he be freed from the remaining year of his contract more than a month ago.

However, Pires - who won the 1998 World Cup and EURO 2000 alongside Blanc, and played for a season with him at Marseille - believes the former Manchester United centre-back's silverware-filled playing career will insulate him from insubordination from within the PSG squad.

"He knows that he wasn't among their priorities, because a lot of names have been mentioned. It's a new step for him, a step up. He's going to be able to show that he can handle a dressing-room with great players with strong personalities, and for some of them, a lot of ego. But I have confidence in him because he's got experience," he claimed.

"We're talking about Laurent Blanc. A bloke who's played in France, Spain, Italy, and in England. He played under a great coach in Alex Ferguson. The players will have respect for him. People talk about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but I think he's an intelligent boy and he knows that dialogue between the two will be important."

Another former international team-mate, Johan Micoud, gave an insight into why Blanc is ready to accept what is likely to be only a short-term appointment with Arsene Wenger seemingly lined up to take the job when his Arsenal contract expires in a year's time.

"He'd been wanting to coach for a while, he was missing being out there," the ex-Werder Bremen playmaker, whose playing career ended under Blanc at Bordeaux in 2008, told RMC. "It's a little surprise, because I didn't expect to see him at PSG given the names which had been circulating in the last month. It's going to allow him to bounce back with a big team with big objectives."

While most of the PSG squad will be fully aware of Blanc and his achievements, particularly as a player, it appears some of the younger members may need a little history lesson.

Lucas, 20, told media at the Confederations Cup he would need to do some research to learn who exactly is the man who will be guiding his club through Ligue 1 next season.

"I'm happy that it's been sorted out. We'd been waiting for a while now. If he's been chosen, it's because he has the qualities and he's a good person. I don't know him, but the squad will try to help him," the ex-Sao Paulo starlet is reported as saying by RTL.

"I'm going to dig out some info, ask the boys here and [PSG sporting director] Leonardo too. But it doesn't matter. Whoever the coach is, I'm going to do my best to earn my place."

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