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All eyes on Zlatan but Blanc is the real hero at PSG

 download (1)The title came in the most emphatic way. A 9-0 away win against the cellar-dwellers who were reduced to 10 men in the second half.
Paris Saint-Germain's victory against Troyes gave the French side their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 crown with eight games to spare. It was perhaps the most foregone conclusion this side of a Harlem Globetrotters game against the Washington Generals.

The focus after the win, obviously, is on the big man. Zlatan Ibrahimovic took his seasonal tally to 35 goals (27 in Le Championnat) and the issue of his contract (he becomes a free agent this summer) continues to dominate.

"As things stand, I won't be here next season," he said. "I don't think [the club] can replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me, but if they can do that, I'm staying, I promise!" That last part, presumably, was a joke, though with Zlatan you can never be sure.

I wouldn't read too much into the "I won't be here next season" part. The key bit is "as things stand" — all it means is that he has not yet signed a new deal and frankly, there's no reason to do it now. Better to listen to what's out there — from China, from the Premier League, from Major League Soccer — rather than being in a rush to sign.

Ibrahimovic may be PSG's player of the year but the man of the year probably ought to be his coach, Laurent Blanc. It's easy to forget that he only got the gig after Carlo Ancelotti left because half a dozen fancy names turned it down. Put a different way, if PSG was applying to college, Blanc was the classic "safety school."

Yet in that time, he won nine of the 10 domestic trophies PSG contested. Given that they're in the French League Cup final (they play Lille on April 23) and the French Cup semis (where they face Lorient), that batting percentage could yet improve.

The real test may be in Europe, but he's been solid there, too. In his first year, they were unlucky to get knocked out in the quarterfinals by Chelsea on away goals and in Year 2 he also reached the Elite Eight, getting bounced by the Barca juggernaut.

Weirdly, Blanc has been more impressive off the field than on it. He arrived with a reputation as a bit of a pushover, the goofy babysitter who lets you get away with everything, but he was stern with Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi following their South American shenanigans and late return and, ultimately, was vindicated. He sat patiently and waited until last month for the club to give him a new deal. And most of all, he handled the fragile egos and big names in a way that ultimately helped get the best out of his star-studded squad.

There are plenty of challenges ahead: from the domestic cups to making a run at the Champions League to Ibrahimovic's contract to the future of Cavani. But whatever happens, he has taken PSG to exactly where they should be (and perhaps a tiny bit further) when he was given the job. And that alone is far more of an achievement than you might think.