Theoretically, the Paris Saint-Germain head coach role should be one of the easiest jobs in world football. They have three of the best forwards in the game — Neymar, Lionel Messi and KylianMbappé— spearheading their attack and a wealth of world class players behind them. But if you were to ask Mauricio Pochettino, or even his predecessor Thomas Tuchel, if it’s a smooth ride in the Parc des Princes hotseat — the answer would most certainly be ‘no!’
Despite winning back-to-back Ligue 1 titles, the Coupe de France, the Coupe de la Ligue, dual Trophée des Champions and guiding PSG to their first Champions League final — ultimately losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich —Tuchel was sacked on Christmas Eve in 2020, with Pochettino, a former player at the club, taking the reigns from the German as they lagged just one point behind Lille with over half the French top flight season left to play.
With such slim margins at the top of the Ligue 1 table, PSG were still the heavy favourites with the bet exchange to lift the title, but Pochettino wasn’t able to turn over the deficit and L’Hexagoalheaded to Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy for the first time in a decade. Their Champions League hopes were also dashed, losing to Manchester City in the semi-finals of Europe’s premier club competition, and leaving Pochettino with the Coupe de France as his only notable honour from his first six months in charge.
It comes as no surprise that the 49-year-old’s future in Paris is always in doubt, with recent reports claiming that he will leave PSG for the vacant Manchester United role at the end of this season. But it can take a while to get this egotistical dressing room under wraps, and with Pochettino seemingly beginning to get it under his control, would now really be the right to time to shake things up again at the Parc des Princes?
Yes, there have been some poor results this season, like losing 6-5 on penalties to Nice in the round of 16 in the French Cup and the 3-1 defeat away to Nantes last weekend, but for every shock there has been a good win — take the 5-1 win away to Lille or the 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League first knockout round encounter as a prime example.
It’s all but guaranteed that the league title will return to its rightful place in the Parc des Princes’ trophy cabinet in May, as PSG currently sit 13 points clear of Marseille at the top of the table, but as many a former manager in Paris has proved — sometimes lifting L’Hexagoalisn’t enough to keep the club’s very demanding chiefs happy.
With PSG’s summer arrivals, including Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Messi, the pressure for Pochettino to finally deliver the Champions League was really ramped up a notch and they are in a good position to reach the last eight after Mbappé gave them a late advantage for Madrid, but with Liverpool inform and Manchester City in hot pursuit of their own maiden success, the French outfit will have their work cut out!
Pochettino doesn’t have his own way at PSG like he did at Tottenham Hotspur, and he probably never will in a dressing room full of players who have won World Cups, Champions Leagues and the lot,but there are finally signs that he is starting to get the respect of the dressing room and have them playing his way. It does feel like he only has the rest of this season to prove himself though, especially with Mbappé leaving for free in the summer.