PSG have confirmed Mauricio Pochettino's exit with Christophe Galtier set to be unveiled as the new head coach; Manchester United considered Pochettino for the manager's position vacated by interim Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season, but instead opted to hire Erik ten Hag from Ajax
Sunday 17 July 2022 07:48, UK
It was six years ago last month when Mauricio Pochettino and his assistant Jesus Perez were spotted having lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson at Scott's restaurant in Mayfair.
It was an informal meeting between Manchester United's most decorated manager, a club ambassador, and the then Tottenham boss.
The pair played down the optics, despite the doubts concerning the future of incumbent United manager Louis van Gaal. It is a footballing relationship that has never come about.
Ferguson and Pochettino have struck up an acquaintance from attending League Managers Association dinners and have spoken publicly of their mutual respect and admiration as top managers and coaches in the game.
After his shock departure from Tottenham in November 2019, there was sentiment for his return to football at Paris Saint-Germain in January 2021, as Thomas Tuchel's successor at the Parc des Princes.
"I'm happy and honoured to take on the role as the club has always held a special place in my heart," said Pochettino, who played 95 times at PSG as a player.
"I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility and am eager to work with some of the world's most talented players.
"We will also do our utmost to give our team the combative and attacking playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved."
But it was fulfilling this identity and managing a dressing room brimming with such talent that proved Pochettino's biggest challenge.
Despite winning the 2021 Coupe de France and 2022 Ligue 1 title, his failure to bring UEFA Champions League glory is thought to be the reason he is leaving the club.
He was gone in a 35-word statement.
"Paris Saint-Germain confirm that Mauricio Pochettino has ended his role at the club. The club would like to thank Mauricio Pochettino and his staff for their work and wish them the best for the future."
Pochettino, who was appointed in January 2021, won the Ligue 1 title in 2021-22 and the French Cup in 2020-21 but failed to deliver in the Champions League, the only major trophy that has eluded PSG since Qatar Sports Investment took over in 2011.
He now finds himself at a crossroads with no obvious route as he reflects on his time in Paris.
Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour:
"Mauricio Pochettino won't be at PSG next season. That follows a meeting between Pochettino and the club. The outcome of that was pretty much mutual. Everyone agreed that now was the right time for Pochettino to move on.
"He won the French title and did that by 15 points. It was the largest margin in any of the top five leagues, but it's a very political club, with a lot of high earners.
"If you look at the calibre of players you get to work with at PSG, there have been fewer more exciting collections of footballers assembled at one club in the entire history of the game.
"There can't be many managers who wouldn't want an opportunity to work with Mbappe, Messi, Neymar, Verratti and many others.
"If you look at the profile of coaches that have left PSG in recent years, or have been deemed to have failed, all of them have gone on to achieve impressive things since leaving.
"It suggests PSG is a very difficult club to manage. There are lots of voices competing for influence behind the scenes and whoever comes in to replace Pochettino is going to have to deal with that and hope it doesn't undermine things.
"It's very difficult for any manager to manage that dressing room but he'll look at the records of managers who have left PSG and gone on to have success.
"Carlo Ancelotti and Unai Emery have both gone on to have plenty of success. Thomas Tuchel has won the Champions League, the Club World Cup and individual awards at Chelsea. As much as it's been difficult, Pochettino will leave reflecting on those good points.
"The Champions League is the competition the Qatari owners crave but they've only been in the semi-finals twice in the last 10 years.
Carlo Ancelotti - 1x Copa del Rey (2014), 2x Champions League (2014, 2022), 1x Super Cup (2014), FIFA Club World Cup (2014), 1x Bundesliga (2017), 1x La Liga (2022)
Unai Emery - 1x Europa League finalist (2019), 1x Europa League (2021), 1x Champions League semi-finalist (2022)
Thomas Tuchel - 1x Champions League (2021), 1x Super Cup (2021), 1x UEFA Men's Coach of the Year (2021), 1x The Best FIFA Football Coach (2021), 1x FIFA Club World Cup (2021)
Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour:
"I think that would be his preferred destination. Pochettino has made no secret of the fact he wants to return to the Premier League in future.
"He held talks with Manchester United, who decided to go a different way and appoint Erik ten Hag, but Pochettino certainly has his eye on Premier League football again.
"There's no obvious vacancy at the moment but it's a league that means a lot to him. Football can be unpredictable and we just wait to see what happens there. From what we're being told, he's not actively looking at the moment but just focused on finalising his PSG departure.
French football expert Tom Williams speaking on Sky Sports News about Pochettino's PSG exit:
"It's no surprise. This has been coming for months. You can go back to last summer even; there were approaches made to Pochettino from Tottenham about a return to north London.
"We knew he wasn't entirely happy at PSG. He wasn't entirely happy in Paris. He spent a long time living in a hotel, which didn't help matters.
"Over the course of this season, even with PSG streaking towards the Ligue 1 title, things haven't felt right.
"Things haven't clicked; the football has been appalling. The feeling has been for a long time that Pochettino was not going to continue beyond this summer.
"The fact that we have appeared to arrive at the point of his departure now is not going to surprise anyone."
French football expert Jonathan Johnson speaking to Sky Sports News about Pochettino's successor, Christophe Galtier:
"Ligue 1 alone doesn't cut it for PSG, but PSG haven't dominated the domestic scene for the last couple of years. That was one of the criticisms of Pochettino.
"I think Galtier is as close a guarantee as you can find for that. I think he will bring the level of seriousness that many people feel is required for PSG to actually get themselves challenging for the Champions League. We saw them do it very briefly under Thomas Tuchel and the hope is Galtier will be able to get them back there.
"Of course Pochettino did lead PSG to a Champions League semi-final before they got knocked out by Manchester City, and there are question marks over Galtier and the fact he doesn't have as much Champions League experience as other coaches who have come before him."