Man City 2-1 Paris St-Germain: Mauricio Pochettino left envious as Pep Guardiola thrives

Published: 25 Nov 2021

Online Desk

Mauricio Pochettino's mission at Paris St-Germain is to win the Champions League amid the talk he will be the next manager of Manchester United.

If the Argentine fails, that may be the end of him at PSG anyway, even if he wins the French title. If he succeeds, he might feel his work in Paris is done and that he can move on with grateful thanks, reports BBC.

This may just be a "win-win" for Manchester United as they move from caretaker to interim manager and on to a summer permanent appointment following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Champions League is the one trophy to elude Pep Guardiola at Manchester City amid a blizzard of domestic domination. That absence was felt most painfully when they lost last season's final to Chelsea in Porto.

But barring something unforeseen, Guardiola's future at City is as rock solid as he wishes, which cannot be said of Pochettino in Paris.

There was certainly temptation to highlight a contrast between Guardiola's bastion of stability and Pochettino's relative uncertainty as City secured top spot in their Champions League group with a fully deserved 2-1 win over PSG at Etihad Stadium.

City's manager spoke glowingly on the eve of this game about his personal and professional relationship with director of football Txiki Begiristain, one that goes back to their playing days together at Barcelona. Meanwhile, the speculation in Paris is about the perceived unease between Pochettino and sporting director Leonardo.

Guardiola's Manchester City were everything Pochettino likes his teams to be and more besides. for a start, they were actually a team.

City were a coherent, fiercely committed unit playing in the very specific style their manager demands. PSG were a collection of talented individuals with many marching to their own beat.

Guardiola's team has world-class players but they all work within that familiar high-intensity framework, allied to the sort of character that allowed them to shrug off the blow of going behind against the run of play to turn the game around.

PSG almost operate like two teams locked within one. There are Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar - and then there's everybody else.

Pochettino's teams usually have his philosophy stamped right through them. Positive, athletic, pressing, intense. Every player imbued with a relentless work ethic.

Not this one.

The growing feeling, as the PSG fans made their discontent known at the final whistle, is that Pochettino's long-term hopes rest on somehow imposing his style on individuals who like to do their own thing. On this evidence, he has a job on his hands.

On several occasions, PSG's men at the back were seen gesturing to those at the front to get their hands dirty as City turned up the pressure. Those pleas that often fell on deaf ears. Too often, the big three were just strolling around and the rest were not good enough to carry them.

Messi, Mbappe and Neymar have all those glorious gifts but work-rate was not one of their qualities here. And, deep down, you can imagine that Pochettino's natural instinct is to want so much more.