When we asked him the question at the beginning of May, Christophe Galtier did as often. He paused, as if to sift his arguments, stared into our eyes and smiled broadly: “It is true that, when you have to manage a selection or a big club, you have an advantage to have played in this team or, at least, to have signed a big European course in a club. I’m not frustrated with that.“We were then trying to understand why he was never part of the discussion when the big clubs were looking for a new coach. Galtier has the answer to everything. But this week, his fate may have changed.
Christophe Galtier and Lille, champions of France 2021
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He succeeded everywhere but…
At first glance, the bet is daring but not devoid of any logic. First because he would find Campos, with whom the current has always passed, and therefore an environment conducive to his development. Before signing an average first season in Nice, Galtier succeeded everywhere he went. It is enough to see what state Saint-Etienne was in before and after his passage to measure his imprint in the success of the Greens under his mandate (victory in the Coupe de la Ligue 2013, first trophy for 31 years for the club).
He then took Lille on the verge of relegation to offer him an unexpected title of champion of France under the nose and beard of the best teams in France, including Paris. Again, his departure plunged LOSC into a very gloomy season. Elected L1’s best coach three times, a record he co-holds with Laurent Blanc, Galtier has solid credentials. So why does his candidacy not seem entirely natural? Because Galtier comes up against certain more or less justified limits.
Christophe Galtier during Lille’s victory on the lawn of Paris Saint-Germain, in Ligue 1, on April 3, 2021
Credit: Getty Images
First, he does not have the legitimacy that a great playing career could give him. While the Park dreams of Zinedine Zidane, the modest career in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 (no trophy, 6 selections with the Espoirs) of the ex-Angevin and Marseillais contrasts with the Parisian bling-bling. At 55, he is also not one of his little wonders of coaching who surfs on a huge hype (like Julian Nagelsmann). Finally, a member of the pragmatic caste, Galtier is not fashionable as Tuchel or Emery were, preceded by a flattering reputation as football tacticians, driven by and for the game, before arriving in Paris.
I try hard not to be a fad
Galtier takes Alex Ferguson as a reference, but above all Didier Deschamps and a former PSG coach, Carlo Ancelotti. “On the game, I’m not a chess playerhe told us in May. I am not dogmatic, I am pragmatic. I watched Sir Alex Ferguson a lot. I am convinced that Pep Guardiola is a very great coach but I am not in it, I am not a chess player (…) I try not to be a fad.”
Galtier: “I try not to be a fad”
Another obstacle is its lack of references in Europe. Even though PSG’s objective remains victory in the Champions League, it is a risk to entrust its destiny to a coach who, in seven participations, has never been further than a 16th final of the Europa League . His only participation in the C1 even turned into a fiasco. Flanked by Chelsea, Ajax and Valencia, LOSC, under his command, had only taken one point in six matches, sharing the dunce cap of the entire board with Genk.
Dunce cap and comic beast
Best club coach in France, unknown or almost outside our borders: this is the Galtier paradox and his CV appears a bit narrow when it comes to taking on one of the most ambitious clubs in the world. Can he manage a locker room full of ego? So far, the biggest ‘star’ he has had under his command remains Renato Sanches or Burak Yilmaz… How will he be able to impose his convictions on Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé? Impossible to answer today.
Except that the PSG wants to change style. Less flashy, more efficient and more focused on national talent. Galtier fulfills the specifications even if his appointment, given his meager international experience, is akin to a leap into the void. His very positive image with the media and his controlled communication are two other assets that could serve PSG. Galtier is a beast of com’, always right in his remarks.
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Ambitious without being arrogant, always honest in defeat, sensitive to the problems of the world around him and far from the sanitized and emotionless speeches of a razor-cold Pochettino. When asked if he could have a career in a big club, he planted his eyes in ours, marked a time of reflection, as always, and with a charming smile: “There’s no glass ceiling above my head or I’ll break it. The important thing is to be happy.“Sure he would be when he arrived in Paris.
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