Pochettino puts PSG failure down to dealing with 'too much greatness' among star players

By Sports Desk November 13, 2022

Mauricio Pochettino believes he offered Paris Saint-Germain stability but the challenge proved a step too far after having to appease "too much greatness" within his squad.

PSG brought in Lionel Messi in August 2021, along with Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Sergio Ramos, to join forces with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the French capital.

A plethora of world-class talent was expected to help Pochettino's side to European glory, though they instead crashed out of the 2021-22 Champions League after a dramatic last-16 clash with eventual winners Real Madrid.

Pochettino and PSG subsequently parted ways in July 2022, with Christophe Galtier his replacement, and the Argentine has said balancing an abundance of superstar footballers was the greatest difficulty.

"You need to adapt constantly because there was too much greatness," Pochettino told Spanish outlet Relevo.

"For Barcelona to have Messi or for Madrid to count on Cristiano [Ronaldo] is a blessing. But when you put too many players on the pitch who all need their place and to be number one, there can be confusion.

"In the end, when you play, it's 11 players with only one ball. There was a penalty and who takes it? It's not even the manager's decision.

"Our ability [Pochettino and his coaching staff's] was that of being people who kept the consensus, who were flexible to give each person what they needed.

"The thing is each one needed something different with their circumstances, depending on how they were doing in sporting terms, in family terms, and so on.

"We gave cause for there to be certain stability at PSG this year and for the same pieces to be maintained."

PSG's recruitment has come under scrutiny in recent years, with their desire to assemble world football's biggest names coming at the detriment of both player happiness and defensive stability.

Mbappe's time at PSG with Pochettino was filled with transfer speculation, the forward signing a bumper three-year extension after it appeared increasingly likely he would wait for a move to Madrid.

Former Tottenham boss Pochettino suggested he did not even know Mbappe was going to sign fresh terms just hours before PSG announced the news.

"They asked me in a news conference if I saw myself with Mbappe at PSG and I said yes because he had a year left on his contract," he added.

"[Carlo] Ancelotti [once] said that thing about how managers can't say the truth.

"Kylian was always calm, he always told me that he hadn't taken a decision. I knew what everyone [else] knew. He told me: 'Mister, I haven't taken the decision.' I insisted: 'But tell me if you've signed, it can stay a secret.' 'Mister, I haven't signed anything,' he replied. 'Are you going to stay?' 'I don't know.' 'Are you going to leave?' 'I don't know.'

"And like that until the end. I don't know what happened afterwards, I only found out a few hours before the announcement was made at the final match [of the season]."

Related items

  • Mikel Arteta loves Arsenal’s attacking mentality during ruthless goalscoring run Mikel Arteta loves Arsenal’s attacking mentality during ruthless goalscoring run

    Mikel Arteta insists there is no secret to Arsenal’s recent success as he praised his side following victory over Newcastle.

    The Gunners eased to a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday night to move two points off the top of the Premier League summit.

    A Sven Botman own goal set them on their way before goals from Kai Havertz, Bukayo Saka and Jakub Kiwior rounded off another fine display from Arteta’s men, although the returning Joe Willock’s late header ruined another clean sheet.

    Arsenal may have laboured to a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie in Porto on Wednesday – but their domestic form has been imperious.

    Asked what has clicked in a run that included 6-0 and 5-0 away wins at West Ham and Burnley, respectively, before beating Newcastle, Arteta said: “We’re in a good moment. Players are performing individually, it is not any secret.

    “Things are flowing. We’re scoring goals in different ways and especially we want more. When we score one, we want two, or three, or four. I love that mentality from the team.

    “We train every day the best possible way and look after ourselves. First of all though, belief. Belief in yourself that you can improve and always get better. Also getting players back.

    “The more players we have back, the more competition there will be in the team, the more alternatives to impact the game. Especially we have to make sure we believe we can do it.”

    Jorginho returned to the Arsenal side for the game against the Magpies and put in a man-of-the-match display.

    The Italy midfielder has impressed in most outings this season, but was only on the bench in Portugal.

    “He’s a top player,” added Arteta. “Especially when opponents have certain behaviours and set-ups, the way I imagine the game, he was going to have a big impact.

    “After, you have to do it at this level. When he’s not playing consistently, credit to him because he was magnificent again.”

    Newcastle were not at the races and have now shipped 23 goals in their past eight league games.

    “It is a concern,” manager Eddie Howe conceded when asked about the recent defensive record.

    “Of course, we are working on things behind the scenes, but that probably was not evident in today’s performance.

    “It is a combination of things, we didn’t do well from corners, knew how good they are in those situations and the third goal as well.

    “We were the dominant team and we’d have been right back in the game if we’d got that goal, so difficult moments defensively.

    “I don’t think we truly got going in the first half, they put us under pressure, I thought that would be just the start of the game, but at no stage did we really come out of that moment.

    “We did not compete well enough which is not like us. It is something to learn from.”

  • Ashley Westwood rejuvenated by good Charlotte move Ashley Westwood rejuvenated by good Charlotte move

    Ashley Westwood was on the brink of retirement at Burnley but the rejuvenated midfielder now wants to play into his forties as he lives the American dream with Charlotte FC.

    In April 2022, the distraught 33-year-old suffered a devastating ankle injury as he challenged for the ball with West Ham’s Nikola Vlasic.

    For a while Westwood’s 286th Premier League appearance looked set to be the last match he would ever play.

    The gruelling journey back to fitness took its toll on the usually upbeat midfielder, who did not play again for Burnley before leaving last January.

    Westwood took a calculated gamble by moving to Charlotte, playing in what was their second Major League Soccer season, and could not be happier with the outcome.

    “It’s incredible,” the smiling Charlotte skipper said. “Even last year I was close to retiring, very close.

    “I broke my ankle, made a mess and then it got to halfway through the rehab and I was like ‘I’ve had enough, I’m done’.

    “Even before that I was getting fed up with it. With what Burnley did, it was just constantly trying to stay above the relegation.

    “I had like 10-12 years of it, and it gets a lot. Mentally it gets tough, so then I fell out of love with it.

    “But then (came) the opportunity to come here and it’s just the best thing I’ve ever done.”

    Westwood says Burnley “still hold a special place in my heart” and returned to visit Vincent Kompany and his former team-mates over Christmas.

    The Crewe youth product is eternally grateful to the Clarets for allowing him to join Charlotte – somewhere he sees as his long-term home having been unable to place it on a map until not so long ago.

    “It’s given me a massive boost, a new lease of life,” the former Aston Villa midfielder said of life in the Queen City, where Dean Smith was recently appointed head coach.

    “I could have some regrets because I asked to leave Burnley and Vinny (Kompany) was brilliant, he let me go.

    “I was honest with him. I went in and said ‘listen, this has come about’ but they needed to get me on a free because of the wage structure.

    “So, I spoke to Vinny and he said ‘we don’t want to lose you but I respect the decision’ and he sent me on my way.

    “And it has given me a new lease of life. It’s been the best thing for me and my family – the kids are thriving, the wife’s enjoying it.

    “Hopefully I’ll be going until I’m 40. I want to stay here a long time.”

    Westwood moved to MLS at an exciting time for the sport in North America, with the 2026 World Cup following on the back of Lionel Messi’s blockbuster move to Inter Miami.

    Little wonder some former team-mates, from England internationals to Premier League regulars, have expressed interest in following him across the pond.

    “You’ve got Messi, (Luis) Suarez and even now I get texts from mates saying ‘what’s it like? I’d love to do it’, so it’s getting more appealing,” Westwood added.

    “They’ve got the World Cup here and if they get that right it could take off. There’s a lot around the budgets and the way the wage cap is.

    “Our owner is willing to do it (and pay more), he wants to go for it, but it’s just about getting all the other owners on board. If they get right, it can take off.”

  • Mauricio Pochettino says he has no issue with Jurgen Klopp ahead of final clash Mauricio Pochettino says he has no issue with Jurgen Klopp ahead of final clash

    Mauricio Pochettino insisted there is nothing personal between him and Jurgen Klopp ahead of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final meeting with Liverpool on Sunday.

    The pair faced off in the 2019 Champions League final when the Argentinian was in charge of Tottenham, losing 2-0 in Madrid to hand his opposite number a first trophy at Anfield.

    The game is remembered for controversy after Spurs’ Moussa Sissoko was penalised for a contentious handball inside the opening minute, resulting in Mohamed Salah giving Liverpool the lead from the spot.

    More recently the Reds were 4-1 winners against Chelsea in the Premier League at the end of January, when Pochettino’s side were outclassed by their hosts and fell well short of expectations set by the more than £1billion it cost to assemble their squad.

    Since then there has been a notable upturn in performances, with three impressive away results including a 1-1 draw against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.

    As he seeks his first silverware in England, the 51-year-old said neither he nor his players are motivated by revenge against their Wembley opponents.

    “It’s nothing against Jurgen Klopp or Liverpool,” he said. “We love to compete with the best teams and Liverpool as a club, and Klopp with his coaching staff and the players, I think they are amazing. You love to compete with this type of organisation.

    “It’s not personal against Klopp or against Liverpool to have revenge. It’s a challenge for us to say ‘we have the possibility to write history, winning a trophy’. That is our biggest motivation. That is my motivation.”

    Chelsea followed the loss on Merseyside with a dismal 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves that saw sections of the home support boo the team off.

    Since then, the atmosphere around the club has improved significantly, with the draw at City preceded by consecutive 3-1 wins at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace that have injected renewed hope into the team’s season.

    “We didn’t compete (at Anfield),” said Pochettino. “If you see the first two minutes, we didn’t match them in the capacity to compete. We created some chances and there (should have been) a penalty after five minutes with (Conor) Gallagher that may change the situation.

    “But the most important thing now in this process is to challenge ourselves to be better. If you want to challenge another person, but you are not ready… You need to put your body and your mind in the best condition. If we are in the best condition, we are going to challenge.”

    Pochettino rejected the suggestion that victory on Sunday would prompt critics to move on from the huge transfer outlay expended by co-owner Todd Boehly since he took control in May 2022.

    “It’s not easy in football,” he said. “It’s not an ordinary business. People know that it’s not only about spending money. It helps, but it’s not only.

    “You need time if you want to build something. That is the process that we are involved in now.

    “You cannot buy victories. You cannot buy trophies. Money helps, but it doesn’t give trophies.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.