Mauricio Pochettino could well get the sack at Paris Saint-Germain following their Champions League capitulation and amid Manchester United links, according to the watching pundits.
PSG travelled to Real Madrid on Wednesday with a 1-0 lead from the first leg of their last 16 tie. Kylian Mbappe gave the Parisians their advantage and he subsequently starred for 55 minutes of the second leg.
He got the opening goal to make it 2-0 to the visitors on aggregate. He could have increased PSG’s advantage but for some smart saves and the offside flag.
Nevertheless, Madrid fought back and Karim Benzema stole the show with a sublime hat-trick. Alongside Luka Modric, the pair turned the tie on its head and dumped PSG out.
While the French giants are on course to reclaim the Ligue 1 title, the Champions League is the ultimate aim. However, another chance for glory has now gone – and in some style.
PSG reached the semi-finals and final in 2020 and 2021 respectively, but this is the fourth time in the past six seasons they have been dumped out at the last 16 stage. The latest result has plunged manager Pochettino’s future into serious doubt, as similar results did for the likes of Thomas Tuchel and Laurent Blanc.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Steve McManaman admitted that Pochettino – who has strong links with a move to Manchester United – could get the sack. However, the pundit insisted that the superstar players must take some blame for the club’s poor form in Europe.
“The players are too powerful. When the going gets tough they do not care,” McManaman said of the team’s second-half capitulation.
“They just play whatever they want to play. The top three are amazing footballers but they don’t work hard enough.
“PSG made mistakes constantly in the second half. You have to give Real credit because even when they are down they stay in the game.
“We have seen managers come and go and they cannot sort it out. They come, they get knocked out of the Champions League and get sacked and then move on.
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“You can’t have four or five not fancy it when the going gets tough.”
Rio Ferdinand also admitted that these sorts of results have become a pattern at PSG.
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“This isn’t something that is a surprise because we have seen this time and again in the knockouts of the Champions League as PSG press the self-destruct button,” Ferdinand said.
“It is mentality, maybe the culture of the club. This isn’t something that is new at the club.
“They have fantastic talent in the squad but when the mentality isn’t right on the day, you have to stay in the game. They didn’t do that. It is part of the ingrained culture at PSG.”
PSG suffered a similar last-16 capitulation against Barcelona in the 2016/17 season. Madrid then dumped them out at the first knockout round the following campaign. Man Utd then made it a treble of stunning defeats at the last 16 stage for PSG in 2018/19.
And United could well be Pochettino’s next club. The Red Devils have made him a firm candidate to take over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
United chiefs reportedly have concerns about Pochettino’s commitment to his PSG contract, which runs out in 2023. However, the latest defeat could change the landscape at the Parc des Princes.