Rivals

Mauricio Pochettino still yet to prove he can steer favourites to glory

Sean Walsh
Pochettino just about remains PSG boss
Pochettino just about remains PSG boss / Marcio Machado/Getty Images
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This wasn't how Paris Saint-Germain's season was meant to go.

After a run back to the Champions League semi-finals last year, a team starting to get to grips with the training methods of Mauricio Pochettino looked a key signing or two away from being European conquerors.

They had what seemed like one of the greatest transfer windows of all time, recruiting Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnarumma. Oh, and Lionel Messi.

However, concerns around how all these superstars will fit into a team have proved to be valid, with only Hakimi a roaring success so far. Further ahead of him, Messi's goals have dried up, while Kylian Mbappe has been dragging the team to late victory after late victory. The less said about the life and times of Neymar, the better.

Pochettino on some level must have known that his methods and processes that were huge wins at Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham would not quite work in the same way at a super-club like PSG.

Sure, they put in a couple of hard-fought performances to topple reigning Champions League holders Bayern Munich last season and they obliterated Barcelona at Camp Nou, but adding Messi to this weird mix was going to take some tactical tweaking.

It's a problem Pochettino encountered at the end of his time at Spurs. Once the Lilywhites were good (circa autumn 2015), they never really looked back, going from strength-to-strength and nipping any sign of adversity in the bud before it could manifest.

But by the time the 2019 Champions League final rolled around, Tottenham were already trending downwards and Pochettino was unable to halt a slide that would lead to his sacking. Once they became one of the teams to beat, a club with a recent prestige of being at a major final, they failed to respond to their critics.

A similar pattern set in at PSG a lot sooner, and again Pochettino has been unable to find a way to stop it. He has failed to tackle the bad habits that have plagued the club long before his arrival, which isn't necessarily his own fault, but he hasn't improved matters.

Their Champions League last 16 tie against Real Madrid last month was a neat metaphor of his reign.

PSG played at their peak in the first leg, though still needed a stunner from Mbappe to win the match. The return fixture saw Les Parisiens threaten to strangle the life out of the tie, only to shoot themselves in the foot and cave in on themselves for the umpteenth time.

Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr
It just hasn't worked out / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

At this point, the culture at PSG seems beyond salvaging, therefore they need to find a way to continually score more goals than the opposition to win games amid their own chaos. Pochettino has largely failed where it's mattered most in this regard.

90min revealed earlier this year that PSG and Pochettino are expected to part ways at the end of the season.

For the Argentine, he won't just stroll into another job at an elite club, and he may even have to muscle his way into conversations for teams a step below after being overlooked for the Manchester United gig. His last successful season came three years ago and there remain major reservations over his adaptability to a team not suited to his needs and an ever-evolving game.

Ligue 1 success is a given in Paris, but at least it'll prove Pochettino is a champion. He just needs to figure out how to be a winner again at his next club.

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