PSG: Mauricio Pochettino did not dare anything

PSG: Mauricio Pochettino did not dare anything

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Rather, it was enthusiasm that predominated. A little wind of fervor had blown over the capital when Mauricio Pochettino was appointed. It was a year and a half ago, and the Argentinian had just taken over from Thomas Tuchel, who was unceremoniously dismissed on Christmas Day. A former member of the club for lack of having been an emblematic player. A man who had worn the armband, especially. It didn’t take much more to please the Parisian supporters. Even if it means putting the virgin record of their new coach in the background.

Pochettino had other arguments. He had proven his worth in the championship reputed to be the most difficult in the world. Acquiring its letters of nobility in the Premier League is not given to everyone. The Argentinian had done it masterfully, installing Tottenham among the strongholds of the Kingdom and leading Spurs to a historic Champions League final in 2019. This owed nothing to chance. But everything to the qualities of management and the philosophy of play advocated by the former coach of Southampton.

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He ticked all the boxes

He had to aim higher. And to walk hand in hand with PSG. Growing together is the eternal will of the Parisian club with its coaches. This was already the case with Unai Emery then with Thomas Tuchel. Pochettino also fell into this category of rising technicians at the time of his appointment. His profile, his past as a club player, his high rating to the biggest clubs of the Old Continent: he ticked all the boxes. Paris had not made this bet on a whim. Pochettino was clearly within the scope of his project.

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At first it seemed to pay off. Successively leaving Barça and then Bayern in the Champions League during his first six months in Paris was no small feat. Apart from Chelsea, PSG had never eliminated clubs of such caliber in knockout rounds in C1. In Pochettino’s Parisian balance sheet, this will certainly remain his main feat. And the symbol of his failure. Dominated by Barça, on the return, and by Bayern, on the two matches, Paris had relied on the talent of its individualities to qualify. Kylian Mbappé, Keylor Navas and Neymar in the lead. And Pochettino never knew how to serve another recipe.

Messi, the poisoned gift

He was, however, the man who had led Tottenham to the top of the European pyramid through play. He certainly intended to imprint the same philosophy in Paris. But he did not follow through with his ideas. A constant that already applied at the end of the mandates of Emery and Tuchel. Pochettino had a similar fate. Even worse. His PSG was certainly the poorest collectively of the QSI era. For a technician whose qualities are unanimously recognized in England, it is disturbing to say the least.

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That Pochettino has failed where others have also failed certainly says it all about the intrinsic dysfunctions at PSG. The Argentinian also seemed to be tied hand and foot. Like others before him, he suffered his workforce more than he acted on it. Like others before him, he hadn’t really chosen it, by the way. The symbol is Leo Messi. It was a great opportunity for Paris to recover the one who would become sevenfold Ballon d’Or. But for his coach, it meant a game plan developed during preparation to be completely reviewed. And for a follower of high pressing and collective effort, having to deal with a player who walks, literally.

Hooked on a team that didn’t look like him

The dice were certainly loaded as the season had just begun. Paris had just brought the final touch to an XXL transfer window with all the expectations that this could imply, in the results as well as in the manner. It wasn’t necessarily the squad that Pochettino commanded, and that needs to be emphasized. But that’s where he failed. In the need to impose himself and reinvent himself, the Argentinian did not dare anything. He invariably clung to a wobbly collective and dependent on his individualities. To a team that looked nothing like him.

It was this chance that Pochettino missed. That of asserting his personality. It wasn’t about becoming someone else. But to take this step to prove his ability to succeed in a club from another dimension. Its failure inevitably leads to an observation. Yes, it is obviously very difficult to coach PSG. He is not the first to symbolize this phenomenon. But he is one of those rare technicians who have had the chance to prove the contrary. Maybe the chance of a lifetime. And Pochettino missed it.

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