Paris-Saint-Germain passes the baton to Mauricio Pochettino

The eviction of Thomas Tuchel on Christmas Eve is no accident. The German coach is not just paying for the results, slightly below the club’s high expectations since the start of the season (1), nor his fresh relationship with Leonardo, the sporting director. Deeper reasons, linked to the club’s strategy and the image it seeks to draw, explain the decision to give the keys to the Ile-de-France club to the Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino, his former defender and captain in the early 2000s. .

→ THE FACTS. Football: Paris SG formalizes the departure of its coach Thomas Tuchel

Despite the titles won under his leadership, Thomas Tuchel will leave behind a ” image deficit “, believes Yvan Gastaut, sports historian and lecturer at the University of Nice, “Perhaps because of his character or his nationality”.

The South American “grinta”

In fact, since his return to Paris-Saint-Germain in 2019, Leonardo has been credited with the desire to replace the coach with a “maestro”, sticking more to the history and culture of the club, of more Latin influence. than Germanic. More than the venerable African, (M’Pelé, Weah, Dahleb) or Slavic (Susic, Halilhodzic) sectors, Paris has always highlighted its Brazilian and Argentinian stars, who are the link between the different periods of its young history.

From Camargo and Bianchi in the 1970s to Neymar, Marquinhos and Di Maria today, via Calderon, Valdo or Rai – and why not Messi tomorrow, at the end of the contract in Barcelona in June 2021 – these masters of dodging , passing of legs and dribbling have always made the City of Lights sparkle, fond of glamor and glitter.

To assert its identity, Paris-Saint-Germain has imitated most of the major European football firms, which structure their organization charts with glories from the past, by giving the keys to its first team to one of its former captains. Mauricio Pochettino, 95 appearances in the blue and red jersey, did not fail to recall his attachment to the club which “Has always kept a special place in (his) heart. I have wonderful memories of it, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes ”, the Argentine said on Saturday (January 2).

In August 2020, the Champions League final lost (0-1) by Paris-Saint-Germain against the powerful Bayern Munich (six European coronations and 30 Bundesliga titles) revealed how much remains to be done for the young club from Ile-de-France (which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary) competes with the continental elite.

Especially since an image of ” reached “, reinforced by its takeover in 2011 by the Emirs of Qatar, sticks to it. ” Paris-Saint-Germain maintains an inferiority complex compared to teams with a strong tradition such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, ​​AC Milan, Manchester United or Liverpool ”, observes Yvan Gastaut. Like other “nouveau riche” such as Manchester City, Chelsea and, to a lesser extent, RB Leipzig, the club’s European record – a Cup title in 1996, a Champions League final – pales in comparison to these secular institutions.

An issue of seduction

Beyond the legend to build, remains the harshness of the land. And in this area, the Parisian shortcomings exasperated leaders, supporters and observers. Thus, Mauricio Pochettino, whose charisma is recognized in the football world, was appointed to be the driver of a shining Formula 1 which has not yet reached the heights.

→ ANALYSIS. Paris SG, Qatar’s good deal

He will have to breathe this extra soul – the South American “grinta” – and find the right system of play – between rigor and spectacle – allowing the constellation of Parisian stars to really play as a team. He will have the difficult task of conquering the hearts of Parisian supporters and France’s football fans.

Because despite the accumulation of stars and his overbearing domination in the domestic championship, his love rating remains low compared to those of other, more popular clubs, ” like Saint-Étienne or Marseille, whose European epics marked the spirits ”, underlines Yvan Gastaut. And whose history merges with that of their cities and their inhabitants.


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