the encouraging first months of Christophe Galtier

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World Cup obligatory, it’s already time for the end of this first part of the season. While the best selections on the planet compete in Qatar, Christophe Galtier’s PSG have gone into hibernation. The coach succeeded at the start of his bet. Arrived with a certain skepticism even before being a starter, the Frenchman had to turn his back and mask his inexperience at the highest level despite being accepted by a multi-titled and star-studded dressing room. First in Ligue 1, unbeaten in all competitions (22 games), Galtier got off to a good start despite the many controversies and the heavy climate surrounding the club in the capital.

“I heard someone say we were waiting for George Clooney and Dany Boon has arrived. I wish many people were Dany Boon… I was chosen by the president. Luis Campos wanted me to come. I feel legitimate.” The tip obviously lodged in his throat. ON RMC this Tuesday, the Parisian coach tasted his revenge. While PSG were eyeing Zinedine Zidane, it was he who was nominated to succeed Mauricio Pochettino. He takes things in hand, observes a lot, goes through his technical staff to gather as much information as possible before having the first meetings with the players.

Perfect starts!

His method works. He is accepted by Messi and Neymar, jokes with Sergio Ramos, offers Mbappé. The first results validate his working method. PSG won the Trophée des Champions (4-0 against Nantes) and got off to a good start in the league (three wins 5-0, 5-2 and 7-1). The difficulties arise just before the fall, after a shocking market and when the first non-sports activity is coming to an end. PSG are struggling to keep a clean sheet, suffer in this 3-4-3, especially in the Champions League, but stay on course until the physical level of the recruits is adjusted.

“At first we had to work on a systemrewinds the former Nice coach. It was very clear with Luis Campos. A different pattern than last season. Over time I made it evolve for two reasons. The first: we have recruited three midfielders, who arrived very late in preparation. With very different degrees of form”. After a string of average performances, Galtier decided to change his plans against OM and switch to a 4-3-3 formation, notably integrating Fabian Ruiz in the centre. “To have more density in the game, recover the ball higher up. But also so that our three fantastic ones can find themselves in their preferred area.

A welcome tactical development

In this scheme, PSG closes this first set better, despite some scares such as during the second leg against Juventus and Lorient in particular. The results are final. Galtier and his men haven’t lost a single game yet. In detail, there are 18 wins and 4 draws for 63 goals scored and 16 conceded. The club from the capital leads Ligue 1 with a 5-point lead over Lens and has qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League without much difficulty. There is still this shadow on the scoreboard with the 1st place in group C1 sold in the last seconds to Benfica, also due to a combination of circumstances.

This first record is therefore close to perfection and resembles those of Laurent Blanc (first L1 defeat after 28 matchdays in the 2015/2016 season) and Thomas Tuchel (14 league wins at the start of the 2018/2019 season). Galtier, as a good leader of men, also arouses the adhesion of his troops, where some of his predecessors never managed to reach unanimity. Always open to discussion, the French 2021 champion manages to send his messages and instructions to the players, some of whom have already won or almost everything. He has even managed to effectively juggle the playing time of Messi, Neymar and Mbappé. It’s no mean feat.

Beware of the first turbulence

Obviously, the PSG season and the Champions League round of 16 have been played since February. It is on this occasion that Galtier will be definitively judged on his work. For now, he holds the bar. There are, however, some areas of progress for the future. Already on the field there are still problems of tactical balance. The backline is often overwhelmed and tends to defend by dropping back. PSG also suffers from set pieces, and more generally in the air. Outside of the sporting picture, Galtier laments, he could probably avoid some media turbulence, such as sand yachting.

“On non-football subjects, I knew there would be great exposure. I think I am very honest and very thorough. I don’t understand the relationship with the media. With PSG everything is multiplied, perhaps everything is exaggerated. You have to write, make jokes, broadcast, everything is controversial. But I didn’t think we’d get this far. Never” observed on RMC Tuesday. He says it himself, in Paris more than anywhere else, the coaching function goes far beyond the framework. Despite his 56 years and little experience under his belt, Galtier is still learning to become the captain of a ship unlike any other. Beaten by the waves, will he manage not to sink? Where others before him have failed.

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