Pressure mounting on Ancelotti as PSG stumbles


PARIS (AP) -With ?150 million spent on new players and no wins to show for it, the pressure is already mounting on Paris Saint-Germain only three rounds into the French league.

While PSG has been recruiting heavily in a bid to join Europe's elite clubs, Marseille has been selling its best players as it desperately tries to stave off mounting debts.

PSG had been widely expected to easily win the league title this season, but instead it is cash-strapped Marseille sitting on top of the standings with a perfect nine points - six ahead of bitter rival PSG, which drew its opening three matches.

"We know we have to win the league, that's normal. We must improve quickly. With just three points, it's not a good start to the season," PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said ahead of Sunday's trip to Lille. "We're playing poor football at the moment, without speed."

Marseille, which has gelled quickly under new coach Elie Baup, hosts Rennes on Sunday.

It is some turnaround for Marseille, which was expected to struggle after coach Didier Deschamps took the France job and having sold key players like midfielder Alou Diarra and right back Cesar Azpilicueta. Others are expected to leave in the next few days.

Ancelotti has been trying to explain the team's awful start and remains optimistic.

"New players have joined, others are coming back from injury. We need to continue working so that our style of play becomes more natural," Ancelotti said. "It's only a question of time. It's just a technical and a tactical problem."

But these are the same excuses trotted out in the second part of last season when Ancelotti took over from Antoine Kombouare during the winter break. At that stage, PSG was three points clear of Montpellier at the halfway stage, only to finish three points behind eventual champion Montpellier in second place.

The excuses are wearing thin, especially considering how much PSG has spent. Ancelotti's inability to win the league from a commanding position last term has raised concern about him arresting the current slump. Including preseason friendlies, PSG has won only one of its past eight matches, a 9-0 thumping of an amateur Austrian side that hardly counts.

The French media raved about Ancelotti's pedigree as a coach who has won the Champions League with AC Milan and secured the League and Cup double in his first season with Chelsea, but they are now casting doubt on his ability.

Sports daily L'Equipe said this week that Ancelotti has "broken down" and Friday's edition of France Football magazine features a front page with Ancelotti looking disconsolate, his hand pressed against his cheek, alongside a headline reading "Ancelotti must do better."

A further setback at Lille will only increase the pressure on PSG, which was jeered off the field by its own fans following last Sunday's 0-0 home draw with Bordeaux.

"All the players are struggling a bit, but we shouldn't lose confidence," Ancelotti said. "Lille could be the opportunity to start winning again. Maybe the players will be extra motivated to win this game."

Lille, meanwhile, is still recovering from selling star player Eden Hazard to Chelsea. The team has a modest five points from three games, but the players will be boosted by Wednesday's 2-0 victory over FC Copenhagen in Champions League qualifying - thanks to Tulio De Melo's winner in extra time.

Elsewhere, Corsican club Ajaccio made the surprise signing of the season when it snapped up Romania striker Adrian Mutu from Italian club Cesena.

The 33-year-old Mutu, whose sometimes glittering and inconsistent career has been marred by problems off the field, predicts he will outshine star PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The two played up front together for Juventus in the 2005-06 season.

"I haven't come here to retire," Mutu said. "I will score more goals than him between now and the end of the season."

In Saturday's other matches, it is: Lyon vs. Valenciennes; Ajaccio vs. Evian; Bastia vs. Saint-Etienne; Brest vs. Troyes; Lorient vs. Nancy; Sochaux vs. Montpellier, and Toulouse vs. Reims.

Bordeaux faces Nice in Sunday's other game.

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