While he remained coy on where he saw himself next, it was clear from what Mauricio Pochettino said, both through his words and his body language, as a guest on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football a few weeks ago that he is ready to take on a new project. He is ready to be a football manager again and with links to French champions PSG emerging, Pochettino could be back sooner rather than later.
At the time of his surprise sacking at Tottenham Hotspur, it was widely believed Pochettino wouldn’t have to wait around long to get back in the saddle. The Argentine was European football’s hottest coach for a time – he might still be – and was linked with almost every elite level club from Barcelona to Real Madrid to, most notably, Manchester United
And yet managerial opportunities at the top level of the game have been few and far between over the last year or so. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has earned his keep, at least for the time being, at Old Trafford, while Zinedine Zidane retains the trust of Florentino Perez after leading Real Madrid to the La Liga title last season.
However, a dot is now starting to appear on the managerial radar with Thomas Tuchel under intense pressure at Paris Saint-Germain. Friday’s collapse from two goals up to lose 3-2 to Monaco raised yet more questions over the German’s job security in the French capital. These is a growing sense Tuchel is only one or two more poor results away from being out of a job.
Pochettino would be a natural replacement, the 48-year-old is a former PSG player, spending two years at the Parc des Princes between 2001 and 2003. His appointment would be a statement of intent by a club that has used such statements as currency in years gone by. Indeed, PSG like to showcase their ambition publicly.
If Pochettino is keen to add some titles and trophies to his resume, PSG would appear to be a good place to do so, with the club currently on a run of three straight Ligue 1 titles. Even after their shaky start to the season, PSG are still two points clear at the top of the French top flight standings.
Having come close with Spurs, PSG would give Pochettino a platform to prove himself again at the top of the European game, with the French side making their first Champions League final last season. The Argentine would inherit one of the most talented groups of players in the sport. Working with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar would hold an appeal.
But before accepting any job offer from PSG, should it come, Pochettino must consider the problems being experienced at the French club. Tuchel isn’t the first coach to have struggled to get a grip on the egos in the Parc des Princes dressing room, with Unai Emery suffering a similar fate to the German.
While PSG boast some of the best attacking talents in the game, there is a gross unbalance to their squad. Their defence is a wasteland, especially after Thiago Silva’s departure at the end of last season. The Brazilian wasn’t replaced, leaving Tuchel with a back four consisting of second rate performers (like Abdou Diallo and Presnel Kimpembe) and short-term loan options (like Alessandro Florenzi).
Pochettino’s success at Spurs was built on a sound defensive basis. He would struggle to replicate this at PSG without significant transfer market investment, and it doesn’t appear that is happening any time soon. Sporting director Leonardo recently revealed the true extent of the financial difficulties being experienced by PSG, explaining why the club signed only free agents and players on loan during the summer window.
It’s easy to see why Pochettino would be interested by the PSG job should it come up, but there are underlying factors at the Parc des Prince that make the position one of the most challenging in European football. Tuchel experienced them and the likelihood is Pochettino would experience them too.
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