• Scorned stars must fight for playing time

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    PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain’s under-pressure coach Unai Emery has insisted that shunned star signings such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Jese must fight for minutes to prove their worth on the pitch.

    The Spaniard, who replaced Laurent Blanc in July, has had a tough start to French life.

    His team are only third in Ligue 1 and on Wednesday 9Thursday in Manila) face a crunch Champions League game against Arsenal.

    Emery told Agence France-Presse in an interview that PSG’s Qatari owners have ordered him to work on the “details” that make a good club great.

    Emery has faced particular attention over his rejection of new signings Ben Arfa who came from Nice, Real Madrid import Jese and Belgian international defender Thomas Meunier. Along with PSG’s other new faces, none have become first team regulars.

    “Adapting to a team that has an identity, a game philosophy, is not easy. It doesn’t matter whether it is the coach, the staff or the players,” Emery told Agence France-Presse.

    “Some players come in and integrate faster than others. Hatem Ben Arfa showed his qualities at Nice but he has changed team. Today Hatem is better. We have spoken, he understands that he has to improve certain things to play.

    “He will get the opportunity to show good things on the pitch. That is what I want for him and the others.

    “Meunier is progressing thanks to his work, his humility and his adaptation.

    “I am happy when the players are implicated in the team. That is the state of mind you need and it is good in this team.”

    100 percent attention
    Emery said all the new players had to use every minute of playing time they get to prove their worth.

    “Coming on for 10, 15, 20, 30 or 45 minutes, it is an opportunity to gain extra time in the next matches. Then you have to be patient. The player who comes on and does good things will win minutes and can improve. The one who does not come on has training to show me he is ready to play.”

    According to Emery, everyone has to earn the respect of the dressing room.

    “The 25 players in the group all listen to the coach. But they must listen 100 percent. When that is the case that means we have all their respect. I like to talk with the team, it is important to communicate. That is what I mean when I talk of respect.”

    Emery was under pressure after losing two of their first seven Ligue 1 games. They have won five and drawn one of their games since and Emery insisted progress is being made.

    “In the league we lost two matches — as many as all last season. But the progress can be seen in the games produced, the way the team has answered on the pitch. In these areas, the progress is good.

    “We did not start in the best way, but I believe the results are going to come. The team understands better how we must play.”

    But Emery expects more and knows he must deliver success.

    “It is a strong team, there is a lot of competition. Our way of working is better today than it was two months ago. I know the team more and more but I have to get to know them better. This process is going to last the whole season.”

    Devilish detail
    Emery built his name guiding Sevilla to three Europa League titles in a row. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi wants similar domination in the Champions League. Emery said though that European success must be based on dominating France.

    “When I arrived here, I asked the president why he had chosen me. He told me: ‘To work on the details.’

    “The team is good, it has won a lot of titles, but he believed that it needs work on the details. The little details that make a team improve and win more.”

    PSG go into their Champions League Group A clash at Arsenal on Wednesday level on 10 points with their London rivals. But both sides will be anxious to claim top place to get a better draw in the last 16.

    “The Champions League is clearly very important for the club. I think we are on the right path in this competition,” Emery said.

    “The important thing is the path you take, the work done to improve all the details, that end-to-end make the team better.

    “The Champions League is where a team’s credibility is put on the line. But there is nothing like the national championship to improve. You have to be consistent over 38 games.

    “Of course we must win Ligue 1, that is what helps us to be better prepared for the Champions League.”

    AFP

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