Paris Saint-Germain will travel to Châteauroux on Friday in the 32nd round of the Coupe de France. Emblematic former president of PSG and leader of the Castelroussin club, Michel Denisot expressed his feelings before this duel on the microphone of RMC Sport. The non-executive chairman of Châteauroux has welcomed the evolution of the Ile-de-France club and sees the current team as the best in the world and one of the favorites in the Champions League.
Michel Denisot, a special match awaits Châteauroux against Paris Saint-Germain…
It’s a unique match for me, obviously, from my life as a football manager which started to be quite long from 1989 as president at Châteauroux and then at PSG two years later. These are the two clubs I have presided over, so I have always had an attachment to Châteauroux. And then in Paris, at one point it was very strong. Today I follow PSG remotely. We had already met in 2004 in the Coupe de France final, it was another moment even stronger obviously. But there, it’s true that on a personal level, it also happens at a time when I think the circle is a bit closed for me. It’s good to see this episode coming. And for the people of the region it’s great because there was no chance of PSG coming to play Châteauroux except in these conditions.
When you’re Châteauroux, 14th in the national team, what do you think before facing the ogre of French football?
There are several ways to look at the situation. First of all, it is a chance to play against Paris for Châteauroux players. Even though we had started the championship very well, then we had a bad series that led to a bad standings which is not our goal. I think we have a good national team, that’s for sure, but being able to compete with Paris Saint-Germain… is not possible. It will be a question of a team that makes a good impression, of playing well and of raising the level of the players. And above all that it’s useful for the next match, the most important match for us in the league against Red Star. This match can also allow players to become aware of their worth. When we are in a good phase we are aware of its value but in bad phases we doubt a little. Let the players enjoy playing this game. This is the main thing today.
Does the meeting constitute a sort of enchanted parenthesis for clubs and fans?
Yes he is lucky. I think all the national clubs envy us, and I understand them, for hosting Paris Saint-Germain, which is now one of the biggest clubs in the world. It’s great for us. And not just for Châteauroux as we are sold out with nearly 15,000 spectators. The public also comes from the surrounding departments and we feel that this is a football-loving region. It rakes in a lot of football fans. We would have had 30,000 spectators if there had been 30,000 seats.
Does the idea of a “Denisotic” amuse you?
Yes, yes. I wonder if Luis Fernandez started all this. When there was the draw he called me from Qatar during the World Cup. But don’t bring it back to me. In fact, these are the two clubs that I have presided over. It is quite rare in the life of a club president to have two clubs and see them meet. And that one of the two is a fantastic club like PSG has become today.
Whatever the outcome, will you be happy?
Absolutely, Blue and Red will win. There I can play the Lotto right away. I’m sure of winning. After the result there is no doubt unless it happens once every ten centuries to have a surprise of this size. We are not in that state of mind. We are in the spirit that this is a football festival and that very, very great people can play against professional players. Most of us also come from the training centers of first division clubs and are players with a good background and who will try to prove that they are competitive no matter what.
With your responsibilities at PSG, let’s imagine good things with the Parisian club as a moment of exchange between players…
We haven’t discussed it yet. I spoke to Nasser al-Khelaïfi at the time of the draw. I spoke to Jean-Claude Blanc these days or to Christophe Galtier to tell them that we were at their disposal if there were things they needed. That’s all, we welcome them. After that, PSG are a huge machine. They arrive in the morning and leave after the game. We’ll see on the spot how things go. It will be from us, and from them too I’m sure, in excellent spirits.
How do you see the current Paris Saint-Germain?
I think PSG have never been so well equipped to achieve their goal of winning the Champions League. This year is the best team ever. The World Cup proved it. The captain of the team that won the World Cup is Lionel Messi, I think Kylian Mbappé was the best player in the competition and Neymar had a very good World Cup even if Brazil went out earlier than expected. . That’s three, no one has the equivalent today.
There are very big players like Haaland, etc. But no one has an offensive addition. I won’t turn down the whole team, but it’s a very strong team. I think PSG, who have not yet achieved their goal this year, have never been better equipped to achieve it.
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Do you think PSG should have won the Champions League earlier?
I’m not inside the club. But I know from experience that journalists try to figure things out. But when you’re not inside, you don’t have all the parameters. Because he hasn’t hit the target so far, there have been somewhat unexpected moments in the competition. But I think the people who have won this year are the ones who know how to win.
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In PSG there are people who have won and who have a crazy curriculum. Lionel Messi is obviously number one in this area. I think PSG have a very, very strong and very motivated team this year. Messi can have a Ballon d’Or if he wins the World Cup, which he did, and then the Champions League. It will be difficult to dethrone for the Ballon d’Or. Neymar didn’t make the World Cup he dreamed of and still has the Champions League. Mbappé has had a superb World Cup and has ambitions to match his talent, which is immense. Really I’m quite confident this year on PSG in the Champions League.
How to build a club to make it win like you did with PSG by winning a European competition?
For me it was about twenty years ago so the world has changed. The world of football has changed. My way of doing this is a way of working closely with the group and being very present in the life of the club. Today club presidents, especially at the Paris level, are leaders who have multiple activities etc.
I don’t know how it works internally, but when I was there I was almost full time with the club. At the time I was seconded by Canal+ even though I had a weekly show. I was totally in PSG, I was there every day. I was in training and had a lot of contact with the players. Afterwards, you have to know a lot about the players, understand them and know a little bit about their lives. Not to interfere in their lives, but to help them. The objective of both the president and the coach is to get the best out of the team. A team plays the way the coach wants, even how the club is run.
Does it feel different this year, with the Galtier-Campos duo?
You need harmony. You know, gamers hear everything. They have some kind of animal instinct to hear everything that happens. Even what you don’t say. Players get an insight into how a club works. I believe that when there is an extremely compact and united management team, it is very, very positive for the team. This is also reflected in the team. This year there is the one at PSG. I know Campos and Galtier from afar.
I won’t go further but it seems to me that there is total harmony between them. They’ve demonstrated it elsewhere before and it’s very strong. The players know there is no room for juggling in the management team. Just because one will say no doesn’t mean you have to ask the other to get a yes. It’s very good and I think the car is perfected to this level this year.
In your action as a manager in Châteauroux or in Paris, have you worked to ensure that the institution of the club is strong?
Yes. You know when you are in a club and it works like with PSG at that moment, we are not the club. The club is above it all. When we are in it, we believe we are the club. Hand! We’re just passing through a club. We participate in his life, we are the actors of a club. But that’s all. The club is stronger than everything but the players in general know it too. Later, some may try to push it a bit.
In Paris it is so obvious that the club is stronger than anything else. In Châteauroux there is another dimension and then there I am non-executive chairman because the club belongs to a Saudi group based in Geneva. It’s this group that really runs the club, it’s not me. I am the president of the representation and this was done at the time of the club transaction. The owner wanted me to remain president so that everything went smoothly. Nor will I make it to one hundred and seven. I am not an active president as I was before.