PARIS: Embattled Paris Saint Germain manager Luis Fernandez claimed on Saturday the French giants could be crowned champions for the first time since 1994 if Brazilian star Ronaldinho (pic) reproduced the form he displayed last season.
Ronaldinho returned late from the Christmas holiday in Brazil after claiming he had undergone dental treatment, though the club was hard pressed to accept the excuse as they said they provided perfectly good dental care for all the squad.
However Fernandez was willing to set that aside and motivate the 22-year-old, a E6.5 million signing from Gremio in 2001, into giving his best even though both he and the former French great are believed to be leaving the 1996 Cup Winners Cup champions at the end of the season.
“Yes he has returned late for work but I will not be punishing him,” said Fernandez, who has come under pressure as PSG have slipped down the table to eighth though they lie only seven points behind leaders Marseille.
“As far as that is concerned it is up to the directors.
“My punishment for him is on the pitch: ‘Ronnie’ must really work hard to get back to 100% fitness. I would like it if he could devote himself 100% to PSG.
“If the ‘Ronnie’ of the second half of last season comes back both as provider and passer then we will be champions,” added the ever-passionate Fernandez, who was a member of the the French midfield musketeers formed by Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana which inspired France to the 1984 European championship title and 1986 World Cup semi-finals.
Fernandez, who is in his second spell at the club, said the World Cup-winning midfielder would not play in their next three matches as he needed to work on his fitness but indicated that the away match with highflying Nice on Jan 22 could see his return to the starting line-up.
Fernandez also said he had put dressing room disquiet to rest after holding talks with the squad following Ronaldinho’s late return which had upset the rest of the team.
“Everyone must pull together in the same direction,” Fernandez said.
“I think everything has been sorted out now,” he added. – AFP
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