Thomas Tuchel woke up on Tuesday morning a much happier manager than he was on Monday morning, and any other morning before that. What a difference a few days in the transfer window can make.
Last Thursday, Tuchel publicly criticised his sporting director Leonardo for how Paris Saint-Germain's recruitment had gone so far. "We lose too many players on free transfers. It is too, too much. We cannot ask this squad the same thing as we did last season," he said.
What he was really saying was, "We are not as strong as last year, so don't have high expectations."
The following day, after PSG thrashed Angers 6-1, Leonardo replied quite angrily. "I didn't like his comments, the club didn't like them either. We have to understand the moment we are going through. If someone is not happy, it is easy -- we can talk. But if you decide to stay, you have to respect the people above you."
Basically, Leonardo invited Tuchel to leave if he wasn't happy. The German is in the final year of his contract, and it's increasingly clear that he won't be renewed.
It's quite unusual and downright remarkable to see two people in key positions at a club, who have a mission to work closely with each other, being engrossed in a war of words like this. You don't see many top managers openly criticise their boss. Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn't do it all summer as Manchester United floundered in the transfer market, for example.
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid and Jean-Louis Gasset's Bordeaux are two of only three teams in Europe's big five leagues to not have signed anyone at all in this transfer window, though neither publicly complained about the situation. The other club is Valencia, and Javi Gracia -- who only joined at the end of July -- is already threatening to leave partially because of the club's inaction, but the wider context is far more serious and toxic than in Paris.
Tuchel had asked for reinforcements after the Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich, because he was about to lose Thiago Silva and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting after Thomas Meunier, Edinson Cavani, Tanguy Kouassi and Adil Aouchiche had already left. For a while, he got nothing. So Tuchel got frustrated.
After reaching their first Champions League final a few weeks before, he could not understand why the club were not building on that success to have an even better squad this season to be there again -- and win this time. He has long felt that he is not heard by Leonardo.
On the other hand, Leonardo has been under a lot of pressure. PSG had to focus on sales; they needed to generate €60 million to make sure they were in compliance with financial fair play. That didn't go to plan, as only Loic Mbe Soh left for a fee, and not much of one, to Nottingham Forest. So the sporting director had to think outside of the box. Alessandro Florenzi, Moise Kean and Danilo Pereira arrived on loan while Rafinha was signed on a free.
Long gone are the days when Leonardo could spend a few hundred million to bolster his squad.
The former PSG player certainly feels that he did the best he could with a limited budget. Every position in the team is now covered. PSG, like almost every big club, have been hit hard by the pandemic and things had to be done differently this summer. The circus from last week once again illustrated the strain in the relationship between the two.
It's true that they don't talk much or get on well. Tuchel is not Leonardo's choice of coach; he was appointed by the Brazilian's predecessor, Antero Henrique, after recommendation from the owner himself, the Emir of Qatar, who had been impressed by the manager at Borussia Dortmund. Their power struggle was particularly evident in the case of Antonio Rudiger. Tuchel wanted him, Leonardo didn't, and the centre-back remained at Chelsea.
The tension between the manager and the sporting director is no surprise, though. They are insistent about how frequently they talk when asked, but sources deny that. The reality is that there is little communication between them at all. Leonardo is involved with the dressing room, where Tuchel has many supporters. Players, especially some of the stars like Neymar, like him, but between Leonardo and Tuchel there could only ever be one winner -- and it's not the manager.
Depending on how this season goes, Tuchel could see out the remainder of his contract and part ways with the club next summer. Just as easily, he could already be in the final weeks of his reign, if results don't go his way. He knows that the Sword of Damocles hangs above his head. Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri are waiting, ready to take over.
After the international break, PSG will start another quest in the Champions League, with the dream of finally reaching their holy grail. Tuchel will have to make the most of it, because this is his last chance in the French capital.