After weeks and weeks of speculation, the so-called “worst kept secret of European football” has finally been confirmed on July 5th – Mauricio Pochettino is no longer the head-coach for Paris Saint-Germain.
After 18 months spent with the team, Pochettino has been let go, with an official statement from the club praising his work with the team, stating that during his stewardship of Paris Saint-Germain, the club won the 2020 Trophée des Champions and the 2020/21 Coupe de France. Additionally, during his tenure the club won a historic 10th Ligue 1 title last April. However, the statement seems to be quite short, cold, and direct – reflecting that Pochettino’s full season was without a doubt deeply disappointing to the team. This sentiment carries more value considering that Pochettino seemingly underperformed with a team that included an unprecedented amount of talent: Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi.
Precisely how poor his performance was, was seen in betting odds across the board – after PSG lost the Big Cup. Whereas many Paris Saint-Germain fans (similarly to fans of numerous other clubs) enjoy placing a soccer bet to add an extra layer of entertainment to the support of their favourite team, this season it seemed like a trickier endeavour than ever before. The precise mismatch of Pochettino’s poor performance, and the unbelievably talented generation of the club’s players seemed to make betting more complicated than it should be.
What does the football scene have in store for Pochettino?
Many believe that this disappointing performance by Pochettino might point to the end of his career, at least in the highly competitive circles that he has become accustomed to. However, realistically speaking, this is highly unlikely to happen, as he has an outstanding track-record before this season – offering him the potential to prove his worth in another club, under different working conditions, with a team that has different goals and strives. Considering that Paris Saint-Germain has a long-lasting track-record of firing coaches that end up bringing historical wins to clubs they transfer to – Pochettino might even have an easier path to reclaiming his success.
Unai Emery and Thomas Tuchel are amazing examples of how leaving Paris Saint-Germain has the potential to bring much better things – as they were both fired from the club but managed to have outstanding careers nonetheless. Emery left Paris-Saint Germain, and joined Arsenal, where he faced yet another disappointing spell – only to then join Villarreal CF and make historical success with the team, leading them to the Champions League semi-final, and securing the UEFA Europa League glory for Villarreal.
Tuchel’s career had a different trajectory, as he managed to find success right after leaving Paris-Saint Germain. After being fired from PSG, he joined Chelsea and led the team to win the Champions League – somewhat rubbing salt into PSG’s wound.
So, without a doubt – further success is still possible for Pochettino. Many reputable clubs in England and Spain (both countries with an extensive and impressive football history) still consider him a great asset and could potentially be opening their doors to him. However, it’s important to note that there are no current opportunities waiting for Pochettino, so this option is a big “maybe”, and even if it is actualized, might take a bit of time. The last known affiliation of Pochettino was the alleged link with Manchester United – but as Erik ten Hag has taken over the team, the chances for Pochettino entering as well are close to non-existent.
Additionally, what indirectly speaks in defence of Pochettino is PSG’s decision to replace him with Galtier – a Frenchman who has never before managed a super club, and is a vastly different choice to the previous world celebrated coaches that were brought in. This, on top of the obsession to win the Big Cup, and the agitation by losing out to teams currently coached by PSG’s previous coaches means that letting Pochettino go might have not been a decision solely stemming from Pochettino’s own performance – but rather the first step in the process of changing strategies.
This is further backed by the fact that Pochettino’s “poor performance” is not something that is unanimously agreed upon in the international community – as he did manage to secure a national title, a cup title and a league title.
In totality, Pochettino’s loss is not enough to put suitors off him entirely – there is still high hopes for him to continue having a successful career, but with an additional layer of scrutiny with which he will be judged in his next post. This bump in the road will be considered a warning sign – until it is proven correct, or proven wrong by the remainder of Pochettino’s career.