Unai Emery’s clock has struck midnight at PSG

METZ, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 08: PSG Manager / Head Coach, Unai Emery is pictured during the Ligue 1 match between Metz and Paris Saint Germain or PSG held at Stade Saint-Symphorien on September 8, 2017 in Metz, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
METZ, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 08: PSG Manager / Head Coach, Unai Emery is pictured during the Ligue 1 match between Metz and Paris Saint Germain or PSG held at Stade Saint-Symphorien on September 8, 2017 in Metz, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) /

Unai Emery has begun the countdown on his PSG coaching stint. Following a season of high expectation with little fruit born, the Champions League exit will insure his departure.

The hiring of Unai Emery in 2016 did little to excite the fan base of PSG. Despite his success at Sevilla, Emery did not have the kind of resume that inspired thoughts of European conquest. With the eyes of PSG ownership focused on scaling that mountain, anything short of achieving that goal would be unacceptable.

With the odds against him, Emery set out to prove the doubters wrong. His first season at PSG was a case of what could have been. A slow start in Ligue 1 had them chasing Monaco throughout the season. They would end up falling short, ending their run of Ligue 1 titles at four.

Further misery was inflicted with their Champions League exit to Barcelona. Taking a 4-0 lead into the second leg, PSG saw their hopes extinguished in a brutal 6-1 defeat at Camp Nou.

Much of the blame for the season’s shortcomings were laid directly at the feet of Emery. Questions over his tactics and control of the locker room swirled. Rumors of replacements were consistently blowing through the sports pages.

Despite what the critics had to say, Emery survived the summer and headed into this season with even more weapons at his disposal.

Star Power

The Paris Saint-Germain brain trust pulled off an improbable transfer for Brazilian star Neymar. As if his skill set was not enough, a loan move for the highly sought after Kylian Mbappe was also completed. The two captures drew the ire of much of the footballing world for the sheer outlay for two players.

With Neymar and Mbappe in tow, Emery had a squad that could match up against any other across Europe. Failure to advance to further in Europe was not an option.

For much of the fall and into the winter months, PSG looked the part. Topping their Champions League group that included Bayern Munich showed they had the potential to push on to the finals.

On the domestic front they were quick out of the gate and began putting some space between them and the rest of the league. With world record signing Neymar leading the way, PSG was putting Europe on notice.


Despite the results, alarm bells were ringing in various forms. In September, there was tension between Neymar and Edinson Cavani over spot kicks against Lyon. Reports came out regarding a potential locker room confrontation after the match between the two stars.

Further penalty issues popped up when Neymar refused Cavani the opportunity to take a penalty against Dijon. With the score 7-0, Cavani could have passed Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the PSG all time leading goal scorer if given the opportunity. The home crowd rained a chorus of boos on the Brazilian star who converted for his fourth goal of the game.

Beyond the field, rumblings regarding locker room cliques causing issues behind the scene emerged. Various outlets reported on discontent between the group of Brazilian players and other groups in the locker room. Many of these reports stemmed from open dialogue between Javier Pastore and Thiago Silva regarding Pastore’s late return from winter break.

All the locker room drama points to a manager who does not have control of the room. If players are wielding power in the team, the opportunity to achieve their goals is greatly diminished. Their opportunity for European conquest was laid to rest as Real Madrid bounced PSG from the Champions League by a 5-2 aggregate.

More from Ligue 1


Neymar’s absence for the second leg was a potential factor in the elimination, but the first leg nearly sealed their fate. A 3-1 loss in Madrid had seen PSG play a hard-fought game on the road only to allow two goals in the closing stages of the match.

Faced with a goal deficit to overcome, PSG’s tactics did not change to a more aggressive attempt to find the net. They set out in the same effort to control the ball while Madrid was happy to lay back. Emery’s tactical decisions over the two legs will be questioned. Perhaps introducing Draxler from the outset would have moved the needle in attack.

Falling short at this stage of the competition has stopped the clock on Unai Emery’s reign. He will most likely finish the season as Ligue 1 champion, but that will not save his job. PSG took a chance on Emery, hoping to he could find a way to meet their goals. In the end, he was a small fish who couldn’t navigate the waters of PSG’s expectations.

Next: PSG eliminated as Real Madrid advance

The countdown on Emery’s departure has begun. With a loaded squad, he was unable to move PSG further up the ladder towards Europe’s elite. Over the next two months speculation on his replacement, and more questions about what might have been will swirl.