When you are the best, you have to make sure to do everything in your power to stay on top. If you don’t, you open yourself up to challenges from those chasing your crown and if they spot a little bit of weakness, those hungrier for success will pounce.
That’s exactly the scenario that Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have found themselves in this summer.
Their poor transfer window has opened up small chinks in their armour and while it might not be enough for others to dethrone them in France, it should be a significant worry to their hopes of progressing further in the Champions League, their main goal this season.
The biggest misstep has to be not responding to the loss of talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It was a move they knew was coming before the transfer window even opened and instead of hunting for their next talisman, they laboured before essentially settling with what they have in Edinson Cavani.
If the first few games of the season weren’t evidence enough, you can no longer rely on the Uruguayan to be the main man.
After waiting for his moment to become the man at PSG, Cavani has floundered in front of goal too often to be leaned on as the club’s main threat at the top of the team.
So instead of bringing in a big name or a young up-and-comer to give him some real competition, they signed Real Madrid’s Jese.
A talented player that has lost his way a little, they settled for versatility instead of a more traditional forward and combining that with the Spaniard’s injury history, it might not have been the best move even if he impressed on his brief debut against Bastia.
Then there’s the ‘stacked’ midfield, that has too many names desperate for starting berths, a characteristic that doesn’t fit the style new manager Unai Emery is looking to play. He started the first two games with Thiago Motta and Adrien Rabiot, leaving the likes of Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi and Grzegorz Krychowiak on the bench.
It has been reported that they have already kept Matuidi against his will, with the France international keen on a switch to Juventus for more game time.
To help appease Verratti, he tried to play him out of position against Monaco in a role usually filled by Javier Pastore and Emery has yet to even try Krychowiak, who looked like their best buy of the summer and the former Sevilla boss should know his qualities by now.
The move for Hatem Ben Arfa then begins to look strange, as he is essentially a backup to the wide players and Pastore. However, one indifferent performance as a false nine has seen him pulled out and saved for a watching brief, which will do wonders to his traditionally fragile confidence.
Moving onto the defence and while moving the unpredictable David Luiz on was a good move, they did it too late to get extra backup.
Thiago Silva has missed the first part of the season through injury and Marquinhos has been with the Brazil Olympic team so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could face a serious crisis with just three centre backs on their books.
This also moves Serge Aurier in as the fourth-choice centre back and with his Ivory Coast team qualifying for the African Cup of Nations in January, they will need to reinvest in a ready-made replacement during that winter window.
At least this personnel change validates Thomas Meunier’s move a little more, who would have only been hoping that Aurier would lose form or be injured in order to find any game time.
In the end, PSG’s transfer strategy seemed to make sense until Emery’s involvement has thrown so much planning in the wrong direction. Surely the club knew he was coming and should have catered better to the style he was wishing to play or have simply bought who they thought was worthwhile and asked the Spaniard to push all the jigsaw pieces together.
Instead, their strategy stinks of being scattershot with too many cooks at the helm having too many varied ideas. They want to buy the best and keep the best but you can never get the best of both worlds.
What’s more alarming is that they haven’t done anything concretely that definitively moves them forward and makes them better when compared with the superb team they had last season.
In fact, they’ve probably moved backwards. Simply put, this is a pretty catastrophic outcome for a team that are desperate for European success and if they are not careful and if they show any more complacency than they have displayed already this season, they may be looking over their shoulder in Ligue 1 as well sooner rather than later.