‘The weirdest marriage in recent history’ – View from France on Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte at PSG
After reports that PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino is due to be dismissed, Pete Sharland gets in touch with Cyril Morin from Eurosport France. Topics covered include whether Pochettino was destined to fail, is the PSG dressing room impossible for anyone to manage, and who will take over from Pochettino?
Despite winning the Ligue 1 title PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino is set to be dismissed after just one year at the Parc des Princes.
PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid at the Round of 16 despite adding Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Nuno Mendes and Lionel Messi to their squad last season.
The mood at the title celebration was tense, with PSG’s ultras celebrating outside the ground due to a protest against the team’s ownership. In order to get more information about what’s going on in Paris we got in touch with Cyril Morin.
What went wrong for Pochettino? Was he destined to fail?
This has been a very messy season in Paris, could anything have been done to avoid it?
“He wasn't destined to fail but he wasn't helped at all,” says Morin. “You have to imagine that Pochettino had to deal with a team he didn't build to his idea.
“Leonardo was in charge of the transfers and, except Wijnaldum which appears to be now a huge disappointment, no player bought by PSG last summer were representative of Pochettino's football seen at Tottenham.
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“Also, he failed to create an on-field harmony between Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi and wasn't helped by the poor individual level seen from the Brazilian and the Argentine this season. He had to play politics as well - with Donnarumma and Keylor Navas - which wasn't what he wanted.
“So the environment at PSG didn't help him at all. But he also didn't change things quickly enough; like in November and December, something had to change. That never happened.”
Can anyone manage this dressing room?
PSG’s dressing room is starting to go through more managers than the kings of that genre, Chelsea.
Pochettino was supposed to be able to re-shape things and change the project and he failed badly. So can anyone manage them?
“I think it's not a dressing room for tactical geniuses anymore. The right manager for PSG would be someone respected, who leaves the power to players and is able to deal with this political side of the story. Carlo Ancelotti would have the right profile, Zinedine Zidane as well.
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“But this team isn't capable of accepting anything radical in my point of view. They also lack leadership, when something goes wrong everybody looks down and everything falls apart.
“We've seen it during the UCL final in 2020. It was the case last year at Etihad Stadium and again this year at Bernabeu.
“It tells something about PSG right now. If you look at winners for UCL these last seasons, you have Liverpool, Chelsea, Bayern: three real teams, not just a collection of talent, with a team built with one idea in mind. At PSG, they bought what was bright, not what was necessary.”
Surely Conte is badly thought-out as a potential replacement? How likely is Zidane as a replacement?
So a lot of initial reports linked Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte, which appear to have been shut down relatively quickly, as well as former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
The appointment of Conte seems baffling on all levels, with the Italian’s playing style seemingly not matching up at all with how the superstars at PSG want to play.
“That would be the weirdest marriage in recent history,” agrees Morin.
Manager Antonio Conte of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on April 16, 2022 in London, United Kingdom
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“I don't see how that would work but it would be very rock'n'roll, for sure.
“The latest news from Le Parisien was that Conte made an approach than PSG really thinking about him seriously. But again, before appointing a coach, Leonardo's situation should be solved.”
Let’s talk about Leonardo quickly. The sporting director always seems to be an issue at PSG with various members of the club seeming to have a problem with him.
“Doubts remain around Leonardo as sporting director: he wants to continue, he confirmed that on Saturday, but many problems at PSG right now come from his mistakes (Mauro Icardi, Donnarumma-Navas, Sergio Ramos).
“So PSG waits on Doha and we don't know what will happen. But revolution should be, as always, the key word this summer at PSG. Even more if Mbappe goes away.”
Okay and what about Zidane?
“Yes, it's still unclear from Zidane's position.
“PSG are willing to bring him in but we have very little information on Zidane's thoughts. He would prefer the French national team, that's for sure. But is there a place for him when Didier Deschamps is still very much supported by the federation ? I don't think so...”
Morin finishes by saying that there has been no other real reporting about who else could replace Pochettino, whilst adding that he thinks ultimately Mbappe, whose future is still uncertain, is likely to still end up at Real Madrid.