Where did it go wrong for Mauricio Pochettino at PSG?

Mauricio Pochettino arrived in Paris with a bang. The Argentine, who had spent two years at the club as a player, arrived to clean up the mess left in the wake of Thomas Tuchel’s departure and take his former club to the next level. At least, that was the thinking.

Pochettino has always been highly rated as a coach, and his time at Tottenham Hotspur saw him widely regarded as one of the most promising of the next generation of managers. Although he didn’t win any trophies, the Argentine had Tottenham consistently performing well in the league with a young side playing attacking, high pressing football that took them to the Champions League final.

Following on from promising spells at Southampton and Espanyol, it was widely expected that Pochettino would find himself at one of Europe’s biggest clubs sooner rather than later, and Pochettino has often been linked with Manchester United after being pictured having lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson in 2016, although that move never came about.

After his time at Tottenham petered out, largely put down to a lack of investment in the team, rather than anything that should be placed on the manager, Pochettino spent time out of the game. Having left Tottenham in November 2019, he joined Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of 2021, on an 18-month contract.

PSG’s season had been inconsistent up till that point, with the team failing to go more than a few games without dropping points in the league, and Pochettino wasn’t able to fix that flaw. They finished second, behind Lille, but they did pick up momentum towards the end of the campaign, and Pochettino guided the team to success in the Coupe de France. In Europe, Pochettino saw the team past Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League knockout stages, before falling to Manchester City in the semi-finals.

A big summer saw the club acquire Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and none other than Lionel Messi, while also putting down a mammoth offer to hold onto Kylian Mbappé into the last year of his contract. The signings made PSG comfortable favourites for success on sites like Betdaq.

It was an ambitious summer from the club, but there was no real reward to show for it. The club won Ligue 1, but exited the Champions League at the round of 16, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid, despite a 1-0 first-leg lead. In addition, the club was knocked out of the Coupe de France by Nice.

It was a disappointing season, for which Pochettino shouldered the blame. However, the Argentine manager was, in many ways, set up to fail by the squad he was given. While Mbappé, Messi, and Neymar is a superstar front three, it’s not a trio that is particularly well suited to a manager looking to institute a high press, and clips were shared on social media throughout the year of the trio ambling around the pitch as their midfield was exposed.

In recent years, the club’s recruitment has taken on a pick ‘n’ mix approach, with sporting director Leonardo coming under criticism for the club’s scattergun signings. Luxury transfers were paired with hard working midfielders in the hope of balancing the side, but the PSG squad has been constructed without any real identity.

Leonardo has since been dismissed, and the new sporting director in Paris will be hoping to put together a more cohesive team. Unfortunately for Pochettino, it seems as though he will not get the opportunity to build the team in his identity. The Argentine looks the latest talented manager to fail to make a mark at the capital club but, in truth, it says as much about PSG as it does about Pochettino that the club continues to fail under the guidance of managers who are proven at the highest level.