Thursday, November 25, 2021
Defeat in your new home?
PSG coach does not defend himself against escape plans
By Hendrik Buchheister, Manchester
Manchester City against Paris St. Germain in the Champions League – it’s a duel between the millions from Abu Dhabi and Qatar. In the PSG bankruptcy, the focus is on coach Mauricio Pochettino. He is considered a preferred candidate for Manchester United – and does not defend himself against speculation.
When Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Lionel Messi grace a football pitch together, it doesn’t just mean a lot of work for opposing defenses. The security forces on the edge of the field must also be vigilant, even after the final whistle. When the Champions League game at Manchester City was over, three speedsters ran onto the lawn of the Etihad Stadium in quick succession to be close to the famous strikers from Paris St. Germain. The intruders delivered hunting scenes with the stewards, the audience cheered the spectacle, and Mauricio Pochettino used the hustle and bustle to leave the scene unnoticed. The Parisian coach congratulated his opponent Pep Guardiola on his 2-1 victory in the preliminary round game, which because of the Leipzig triumph at Klub Brugge, was enough for both teams to advance to the last 16, and disappeared into the catacombs.
In the duel between Qatari millions (PSG) and millions from Abu Dhabi (Manchester City), Pochettino was much more in the spotlight than he probably would have liked. The reason for this are the events a good seven kilometers (and nine tram stops) west of the Etihad Stadium. City rivals Manchester United are on the lookout for a coach after the unfortunate club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was long overdue and the lead leads to Pochettino. Even after José Mourinho’s departure in December 2018, the then Tottenham coach was a preferred candidate at Old Trafford. Because interim coach Solskjaer did his job better than expected at the time, Manchester United’s managing director Ed Woodward rewarded him with the promotion to the permanent solution. Pochettino signed in Paris earlier this year, replacing Thomas Tuchel.
None for hero football
After Solskjaer’s failure, Pochettino is apparently the first choice again at Manchester United, and it was a nice coincidence that the Argentine appeared with PSG in Manchester during these eventful days. In addition to his skills as a football coach, Pochettino’s diplomatic skills were also required during the business trip to the north-west of England. He was asked about the speculation surrounding Manchester United at every opportunity and Pochettino replied professionally and without obligation. He is happy in Paris, has a contract until 2023, and rumors in the professional industry are part of it. And so forth. However, he avoided a resilient, permanent commitment to his current employer as well as a rejection of Manchester United. And for good reason. It is an open secret in England’s media that Pochettino has long been drawn to the idea of working at Old Trafford and getting the English record champions back on track, who fell after the eternal Sir Alex Ferguson left.
It can be doubted that Pochettino is happy in Paris. Almost a year after his arrival in the French capital, he still lives in the hotel. The heroic football he has to play with Mbappé, Neymar and Messi doesn’t suit him. His teams are actually characterized by hard work, community and the principle that all players are equally important. Two years ago he sensationally led Tottenham Hotspur into the final of the Champions League (0: 2 against Liverpool). Pochettino’s record in Paris is mixed. Playful splendor is rare, despite the league lead in Ligue 1 with an eleven point lead. The additions to this season, especially Lionel Messi, have not yet arrived properly.
Guardiola has an advantage against Pochettino
PSG and Manchester City have the rich owners and the obsession with finally winning the Champions League, and after the impressions of the direct duel, Guardiola’s side have the better chances. England’s champions were perfectly coordinated, played with a system and clearly mastered the Parisian collection of individualists. The score on goal of 16: 7 for the hosts gave better information than the final score of 2: 1 due to the hits by Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus when Mbappé conceded a goal. “I’m more than satisfied,” said Guardiola.
Before the game he had been asked whether a coach needed a title to be recognized as a master in his field, and he had said no. The question was related to Pochettino, who in England with all the recognition for his work at Tottenham is reproached for his personal trophy cabinet. A French cup and the French Supercup are his only two successes. That’s thin as a recommendation for the job at Manchester United. At PSG, however, they believe in success with Pochettino. In any case, the club does not seem willing to give up the coach in the middle of the season. England’s record champions will have to wait at least until summer if they want to sign Pochettino. Until then, an interim solution is to be installed at Old Trafford. The candidates include Ralf Rangnick and Lucien Favre.
Manchester City doesn’t have such problems. As in every game, the fans sang proudly against PSG about being looked after by perhaps the greatest genius of the coaches’ guild: “We’ve got Guardiola!”