Unai Emery, Unai Emery, Unai Emery! You will never hear that chant from PSG fans because he is simply not good enough to lead PSG to Champions League glory.
For any team to reach its full potential and win the holy grail of European football – the Champions League – you need the right man in charge. Unfortunately for this world-class PSG side, they don’t have that.
So let’s rewind to last season and Emery’s first year in charge. He was brought in by PSG’s owners to win the Champions League. However, he fell woefully short as he only managed to win the two French cup competitions – Coupe De La Ligue and Coupe de France.
In Ligue 1, PSG was poor as they surrendered the Ligue 1 title to Monaco. On top of that, who can forget their inexplicable last 16 Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona and Neymar in particular?
After battering Barcelona 4-0 at home they somehow contrived to lose 6-1 at the Nou Camp with Barcelona scoring 3 goals, after the 87th minute. Really and truly Emery should have been sacked after this game. He got his tactics all wrong and made negative and surprising substitutions which sealed PSG’s fate.
However, Emery was given a second chance this season to win the Champions League. PSG’s owners backed him in the transfer market by bringing in two of the best players in the world – Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
To give Emery some credit PSG have played well this season; scoring more goals than any other team in Europe’s top 5 leagues. They won their group in the Champions League and currently lead Ligue 1 by 12 points. Also, they have won every single home game in all competitions this season.
But PSG’s biggest test of the season was on Wednesday night when they faced European giants Real Madrid in the Champions League Last 16 first leg. Real Madrid has been terrible this season. They are 4th in La Liga and finished behind Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions’ League group.
So Real Madrid was there for the taking at the Bernabeu. The pressure on them was huge. All PSG had to do was weather an early storm, then take control of the game. Real Madrid would have wilted under the pressure.
In the first half, it appeared as though this would happen as PSG took the lead through Adrien Rabiot. They controlled most of the first half until they gifted Real Madrid a soft penalty. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t mess about and smashed it in the back of the net.
PSG started to take control, again, in the second half but then Emery made a disastrous substitution after 65 minutes. This gave Real Madrid the confidence and momentum they needed. He took off Edinson Cavani – PSG’s top goalscorer – and replaced him with right back Thomas Meunier. This defensive change made little sense as PSG were on top and looked more likely to score again.
It was no surprise then, that within 20 minutes of the change, Real Madrid had scored twice more through Ronaldo and Marcelo. Both goals came from Meunier’s inability to stop crosses into the box.
The game finished 3-1 and now Real Madrid has a great chance of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Emery’s substitution undoubtedly changed the flow of the match and ultimately cost PSG at the minimum, a draw. He must be held responsible for this. If PSG are unable to overturn the 3-1 deficit in the second leg he must be sacked immediately. With the players at his disposal, anything but a place in the final is a failure.
If PSG does overturn the deficit, Emery will be the luckiest man alive. But as they say, luck doesn’t last forever. With him, in charge, PSG will eventually come unstuck whether it be in the quarter-final or semi-final as he cannot be trusted to get his tactics and substitutions right when it really matters.
Emery was not good enough last season to lead PSG to a Champions League triumph and he proved once again on Wednesday night he is not good enough now.