Paris Saint-Germain takes a gamble by hiring Ancelotti
LONDON (Reuters) -- Few sides have replaced their coach halfway through the season when top of the league and although Paris St Germain are no ordinary club, the risks they are taking in their very own French revolution could backfire spectacularly.
Antoine Kombouare, replaced by the more high-profile Carlo Ancelotti, may have been little known outside of Ligue 1 football but he had quickly gelled together a side after new Qatari owners splashed out millions in the close season.
Yes, they were narrowly eliminated in the Europa League group stages and lost 3-0 to arch Ligue 1 rivals Marseille, but the former Valenciennes coach still found top spot in a league PSG have only won twice.
He acted with dignity despite constant press reports that the new owners were so desperate for an immediate title and world domination that they were plotting to replace the man who had been in place before May's takeover.
Even PSG's own players have reservations about the speed and amount of changes underway at the Parc des Princes and if PSG end up finishing second under former AC Milan and Chelsea boss Ancelotti, ruthless ambition could turn into impatient folly.
Uruguayan defender Diego Lugano, who only joined in the last transfer window, told his own website: "It generates instability in the sense that everything is changing for the players who were there before. New players have arrived and others will follow and that creates a lot of changes.
"Of course this club in the coming years will be the biggest in Europe, I have no doubt. But it causes some anxiety within the club and we are also not sure what will happen on a personal level with some team mates. It is not easy, but you try to always be positive."
Italian Ancelotti, who has no previous in-depth knowledge of French football, has former top Serie A players Javier Pastore, Salvatore Sirigu, Mohamed Sissoko and Jeremy Menez at his disposal.
He will no doubt want to add to PSG's existing talent but has little time to formulate a January transfer window spending plan with sporting director Leonardo, ironically the man who followed him as Milan coach.
Reports say David Beckham will sign in the coming days and the likes of Chelsea's Florent Malouda, Milan's Alexandre Pato and Real Madrid's ex-Milan playmaker Kaka have all been linked with joining Ancelotti.
All previously played under him but so many egos coming in at one time could easily upset the apple cart.
A look back at recent examples of clubs suddenly flushed with cash, especially in England, shows significant time was needed for success to arrive.
It took Kenny Dalglish four years to win the Premier League title with newly-rich Blackburn Rovers in 1995 and even though he spent big on Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, that championship-winning team boasted lesser known lights such as Stuart Ripley, Jason Wilcox and Mark Atkins.
Ancelotti knows from his own experiences at Chelsea, sacked at the end of last season despite winning a league and cup double the year before, just how merciless football owners can be.
Yet for all the chopping and changing at Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich's holy grail of the Champions League looks further away than ever.
Manchester City, the richest club in the world just ahead of PSG, could have panicked when Roberto Mancini only managed Champions League qualification last season but they knew it was a long-term project and that making Europe's top competition for the first time was a realistic initial aim.
City now sit top of the Premier League, just like PSG in Ligue 1. The only difference is the Parisiens have axed their coach and are almost starting from scratch again with tactics, favoured players and relations between players and staff.
Despite Ancelotti winning two European Cups with Milan as well as a domestic double with Chelsea in his first season, PSG's Ligue 1 rivals like champions Lille may actually see the change in coach as their best chance of overhauling a club only formed in 1970.
"Is Kombouare's departure the injustice of the century?" asked L'Equipe blogger Didier Roustan.
The appointment of such a successful coach in Ancelotti may turn out to be a masterstroke but if he slips up in his first official outing against lower league Locmine in the French Cup on Jan. 8, the PSG revolution could become very messy indeed.