Money doesn't always buy success, everyone's agreed. What it does procure, however, is top-quality players. The difficulty is convincing that talent – and usually more trickily – getting them to play together. It seems Carlo Ancelotti, Paris Saint-Germain FC's conjurer-in-chief, has finally pulled off that particular trick at the Parc des Princes.
Ever since his appointment at the turn of last year, the Italian had not stopped talking about how he had a group of individuals rather than a cohesive unit. "There is no 'I' in team ... but there is a 'me''' seemed to sum up the mantra of his expensively-assembled squad. Though they were more often than not winning, PSG's triumphs were frequently the fruit of individual flashes of brilliance rather than the just reward of excellent team play.
Now it seems Ancelotti's gifted charges have put their own causes aside for the greater good, beating title rivals Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 on Sunday to register a fourth successive win in all competitions and a return to the top of Ligue 1.
"In two weeks, since the defeat at Nice, many things have changed," said Ancelotti, after "crisis" had been the word uttered by the 53-year-old following his team's 2-1 loss on the Mediterranean coast on 1 December. "Who would have thought PSG could change so much in a fortnight?"
The seeds of their current flourish were sown in their matchday six triumph against FC Porto which secured top spot in UEFA Champions League Group A, while a team dinner at an Italian restaurant in Paris two days later helped fuse the dressing room. If proof were needed of the new altruistic PSG then Blaise Matuidi provided it against Lyon.
A hard-working midfielder in the Claude Makelele role, Matuidi was the unlikely match winner, charging forward to head in a cross from Zlatan Ibrahimović and ensure the headlines were not all about the Sweden captain.
"We don't care about nationalities," explained Matuidi recently, with reference to the club's cosmopolitan squad. "The main thing is that we all have the same objective. We're all aware of that." Couple talent with unity, and you have a potent blend. Ancelotti knows that, too.
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