Unai Emery ‘believes’ in PSG acknowledges changes may be made
PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has cast doubt on his future after Tuesday’s Champions League round-of-16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid by saying that those involved with the club “might change, but the project will stay the same.”
PSG lost 3-1 away at Madrid and 2-1 at the Parc des Princes, completing a 5-2 aggregate defeat that means that they are now only fighting for Ligue 1, the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France.
Emery’s contract is up at the end of the season, and sources told ESPN FC this week that PSG are already looking at replacing him, but the coach said he was focused on Saturday’s game against Metz.
“After this elimination, criticism is to be expected,” Emery said at a news conference on Friday. “The most important thing is the internal analysis — what must be changed in order to progress.
“I am thinking collectively, about the club. My future is the next match, so this weekend. We still have other objectives, which we need to prepare well for. I am not worried about my future. I am thinking only about the team — how can we perform better and be better prepared in the future?
“The PSG project, I believe in it. However, the people involved with this project might change, even if the project itself does not change. Today, I am going about my work as if I will stay here for the rest of my life.”
Julian Draxler was critical of Emery after the defeat on Tuesday, admitting that he was “surprised and a bit sour” to have been an overlooked substitute for so long before Emery sent him on towards the end.
Emery revealed that Draxler has spoken with sporting director Antero Henrique and team coordinator Maxwell and stated his belief that the Germany international was “misinterpreted” in the heat of the moment.
“I spoke with the squad on Thursday,” Emery said. “Antero and Maxwell spoke with the players, particularly with Julian.
“Julian did not mean to say what he said. After a match like Tuesday’s, experience dictates that speaking immediately in the aftermath is not always a good idea.
“These players are young and things that they say can be misinterpreted. Julian has explained himself and I believe what he had to say.”
Emery believes that his players are already starting to clear their minds since the defeat.
“Being with each other has done us some good,” Emery said. “The players were keen to clear their minds as quickly as possible. Training has enabled us to quickly move on to the next match.
“When players put the PSG shirt on, they have a responsibility. The players must see the other objectives we are still fighting for, notably in Ligue 1. We need to grow as a team.
“The Coupe de la Ligue final against Monaco will be beautiful. Caen away in the Coupe de France semifinals is important because this competition is another major aim of ours. We will work with enthusiasm and motivation. Little by little, we will forget going out to Real.”
Emery also said that Javier Pastore, Marquinhos and Adrien Rabiot are doubts to face Metz and that Edinson Cavani is banned one game after accumulating yellow cards.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.