Mauricio Pochettino, the latest victim of PSG’s electric bench

Great coaches have tried and are failing one by one: Mauricio Pochettino is the latest victim of the demanding bench of Paris Saint-Germain, a club that he leaves as coach despite having one more year on his contract, with the feeling of a failed mission.

“It’s difficult for a club like Paris Saint-Germain, since the goals are very high. Sometimes, when you win the league, it doesn’t seem like enough and of course, it’s not enough for us either,” the Argentine coach recently admitted from a short concentration in Qatar.

Pochettino had arrived in January 2021, after the departure of Thomas Tuchel.

“He loves this club,” former French player Luis Fernández said about him then, recalling that he had been a PSG defender between 2001 and 2003.

It took a year and a half for coach Pochettino to squander much of the credit that the player Mauricio had earned. And this, despite having won the French Ligue 1 this season.

The enormous pressure from PSG since the arrival of the Qataris at their property a little over a decade ago has made us forget the nostalgia that surrounded Pochettino’s name in Paris, where he was remembered as part of the generation of the Ronaldinho years at the beginning of the century.

But Pochettino (50 years old), as coach of the French capital club, has accumulated too many disappointments: he lost Ligue 1 2020-2021 to Lille, last August he fell in the Champions Trophy (French Super Cup) against that same team, in the Coupe de France this season they already said goodbye in the round of 16 last January…

abandoned style

Only lifting the Champions League could save the balance of Pochettino, whose contract lasted until 2023. Winning Ligue 1 was not going to be enough to satisfy the hunger for glory of managers and fans.

But he failed on that mission. Before his arrival, Paris Saint-Germain came close to lifting the ‘Orejona’ in 2020, with Thomas Tuchel on the bench, but lost 1-0 in the Lisbon final against Bayern Munich.

In his first season at Paris Saint-Germain, Pochettino led the team to the Champions League semi-finals in 2021, but Manchester City (losses 2-1 and 2-0) then blocked his path to the final.

In the season that just ended, the route was cut earlier, in the round of 16 against Real Madrid, which was considered a big step backwards in a course in which Lionel Messi had been signed precisely to try to be European champion.

The title in Ligue 1 was not enough for an important sector of the fans, who remembered that Pochettino had promised upon his arrival “to win with style”.

Low profile

Pochettino, who often demanded time to develop his ideas, was not helped by the numerous absences of important men, such as Neymar’s ankle injury, which kept him out for two and a half months.

Pochettino, close to his players, used to protect them in his public interventions and criticism of them came in a trickle, like the day of the “unacceptable” defeat in Monaco (3-0), when the elimination against Real Madrid in the Champions League was still it was fresh.

Even in that setback at the Santiago Bernabéu, Pochettino defended his squad and preferred to point to the refereeing performance.

The press reproached him, recalling the mistakes of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, estimating that Marquinhos had played his worst game in nine years in Paris, that Neymar was invisible and that Messi was light years away from what is expected of a man who has won seven Ballon d’Ors.

In Paris, except on sporadic occasions, the electric game of Pochettino’s Tottenham, runner-up in Europe in 2019 (defeat 2-0 against Liverpool in the final), was not seen.

In France, Pochettino also leaves the image of a low profile coach in press conferences and cautious, sometimes too much, in his decisions.

After 18 months, it was rare to hear him speak French in public, unlike his predecessors, which accentuated the sense of distance.

Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel and now Mauricio Pochettino… Not winning the Champions League has a price in the Parc des Princes.

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