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May 8, 2014

Blanc rejects criticism after PSG title

Fans of Paris Saint-Germain celebrated their team's second successive league title, despite losing 2-1 to Rennes at home.

Laurent Blanc has hit back at criticism of his work with Paris Saint-Germain this season after helping the Ligue 1 champions retain their crown, telling the media: "The PSG coach isn't just a guy who puts down 11 names."

Laurent Blanc celebrates the title with PSG striker Edinson Cavani.
Laurent Blanc celebrates the title with PSG striker Edinson Cavani.

Johnson: Champions beaten

Blanc, 48, saw his side beaten 2-1 at home by Rennes on Wednesday but knew before kick-off his team would lift the French title for a second successive season following second-placed Monaco's 1-1 draw with Guingamp earlier in the evening.

By also winning the Coupe de la Ligue and taking PSG close to the Champions League semifinals, Blanc has surpassed the achievements of predecessor Carlo Ancelotti. While his players were being feted as champions, Blanc said he and his staff fully deserved their share of the plaudits.

RMC quoted Blanc as saying: "I appreciate this one because, at the start of the season, everyone thought Paris would be champions with any old coach. That's perhaps true, but I'm not convinced of that. You have to pick up points, give an identity to the team's play and put in place a philosophy with great players who you have to convince and with whom you have to discuss things. There are moments of tension.

"The PSG coach is not just a guy who puts down 11 names and tells them: 'Do what you want, win!' -- that would be too easy. The players are important, but the technical staff are too in both the good and the bad times."

The press were not the only ones sceptical about Blanc's influence on a squad that contains imposing personalities such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Thiago Silva. Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff recently called Blanc "a coach who doesn't coach" due to the former Bordeaux and France boss' perceived distance between himself and his players on a day-to-day basis.

Blanc -- who has become only the fourth coach to win the French title with two different clubs after also guiding Bordeaux to the title in 2008-09 -- rejected the criticism.

"People don't know what they're talking about. There is a lot of jealousy, and that is a bad fault. It always ends up turning nasty. I don't have that fault," he said.

"People need to come and see how we work. I'm at training every day, and I work just as the coaches and technical staff do. I do the same as the others -- I participate in training and in the choice of certain things. I delegate a lot, but a coach at a big club has to delegate because there are lots of things to do other than on the football pitch.

"It's a method of working, and I don't criticise anyone. You're always right when you get results. I have had the good fortune to work with great coaches abroad. You have to be open-minded and not think your method is the only good one."

Blanc's touch has undoubtedly improved PSG's overall team play, which at times over-relied on individual moments of brilliance under Ancelotti, and he could yet see his squad write themselves into the annals of French football by breaking the all-time record for points in a single season, set at 84 by Lyon in 2005-06.

To do that, PSG need just two points from their remaining two league fixtures, against Lille and Montpellier, and midfielder Yohan Cabaye told media that is where the players' focus should now be.

"This defeat spoils the celebrations a little bit, but we have won the league, we've done the job and that's the most important thing," he said, according to RMC. "We have two matches left, we are just a point off the record -- we have two games to beat it. Of the five trophies available, we have won three. That's very good. There is still the disappointment of the Champions League, but a project isn't built over two years but over the long term. It's up to us to concentrate on the future and next season."

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