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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Mauricio Pochettino Sacked by PSG After Winning Ligue 1 Title

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Paris Saint-Germain have sacked manager Mauricio Pochettino following months of uncertainty surrounding his future.

A statement from the club read: “Paris Saint-Germain confirms that it has ended its collaboration with Mauricio Pochettino. The Club would like to thank Mauricio Pochettino and his staff for their work and wish them the best for the future.”

Despite the French giants wrapping up the Ligue 1 crown in April, the former Tottenham Hotspur boss was booed by large sections of the home crowd with a perception that he was responsible for several below-par performances across the season. Christophe Galtier is expected to be officially appointed as his successor this week.

While PSG regained the title after finishing second in his first season at the Parc des Princes, chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi has handed Pochettino his P45. The club’s decision is their first major one since star player Kylian Mbappe signed a new and groundbreaking three-year contract, reportedly handing him an unprecedentedly level of control over Les Parisians’ footballing operations.

PSG were eliminated from the Champions League at the round-of-stage by eventual winners Real Madrid and also crashed out early in the Coupe de France with a humiliating defeat to Nice. Galtier, 55, has previously managed Lille and Nice, leading the latter to a fifth-place finish last season.

The Argentine interrupted PSG’s dominance in the French league by clinching the Ligue 1 title with Lille in 2021. Galtier’s man-management has seen him garner plenty of plaudits, with Renato Sanches, Jonathan David and Mike Maignan among those he’s managed to get the best out of.

There have been reports that Pochettino has been prepared to leave his post for the past few months due to friction within the club. Despite their domestic results, PSG’s fans have grown disillusioned with the club’s hierarchy and the supporters staged a major protest ahead of their matchup with Rennes earlier this season, with a host of follow-up demonstrations since.

Pochettino was appointed as PSG boss in January 2021, replacing the dismissed Thomas Tuchel, and within two weeks had won the first trophy of his coaching career – guiding his side to the Trophée des Champions by defeating Marseille. Despite defeating Monaco in the Coupe de France final, PSG were surprisingly beaten to the Ligue 1 title by huge outsiders Lille.

The Argentine coach had mixed fortunes in the Champions League – securing impressive aggregate victories over Barcelona and Bayern Munich before falling to Manchester City at the semi-final stage. However, a summer which saw Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Nuno Mendes and Georginio Wijnaldum heading the arrivals at the club raised expectations – and the club’s Champions League Round of 16 collapse against Madrid was definitive in how their 2021/22 campaign would be assessed.

In March, PSG fans booed Lionel Messi and Neymar during the club’s first Ligue 1 match, against Bordeaux, after their European elimination against Real Madrid. The two South American superstars were booed with every touch of the ball by PSG fans. Those boos came just a day after PSG ultras called on president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to resign following the latest European humbling for their club.

Pochettino had initially been the favourite to land the Manchester United job, as revealed in February, with the Old Trafford hierarchy identifying the Argentine as a leading candidate for the role. That revelation was later fleshed out by Mirror Football reporting that the Argentine was the preferred candidate among the players in United’s dressing room – but the club subsequently confirmed the appointment of Ajax boss Erik ten Hag.

Pochettino was quizzed about the matter after confirmation of Ten Hag’s Old Trafford appointment, but he avoided being drawn on the subject.

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