What has Pochettino been up to since his 2019 Spurs sacking?
Turbulent times at PSG, overlooked by Man United, BBC punditry at the Qatar World Cup and cherry blossoms in Japan… what Mauricio Pochettino has been up to since his Spurs sacking in 2019 as he gets the Premier League return he craved with Chelsea
- Mauricio Pochettino is poised to become the next manager of Chelsea
- Argentine returns to the Premier League nearly four years after Spurs sacking
- He has since managed PSG and worked as a pundit during the Qatar World Cup
Working as a pundit on the BBC’s coverage of the Qatar World Cup, it was only a matter of time before Mauricio Pochettino was asked about his next career move.
The Argentine had been sacked by Paris Saint-Germain less than six months earlier and told Gary Lineker he wasn’t going to rush into simply accepting the next job that came up.
‘Soccer is timing. These are the moments for it to coincide and for that marriage to happen. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time,’ Pochettino said.
‘I don’t believe in trains passing only once. I think that sometimes you have to have the necessary patience and you have to know how to wait.’
Well, Pochettino has waited but now the train is approaching its destination. It’s a largely familiar place – London and the English Premier League – but the club and the challenge is very different.
Mauricio Pochettino spoke openly about his next career move when a pundit on the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup late last year – he is pictured in the studio (second right) with Gary Lineker (left), Rio Ferdinand (second left), Alan Shearer (back) and Jurgen Klinsmann (right)
Chelsea are closing in on the appointment of Pochettino as their next manager as the Argentine gets the return to the Premier League he was so keen on
It will upset many Tottenham fans, even more so given their current crisis, but Pochettino is poised to be the next manager of Chelsea.
Pochettino is a believer in ‘universal energy’, that everything happens for a reason, and after front-runner Julian Nagelsmann turned down the Stamford Bridge hot-seat, here he is tasked with rebuilding Chelsea into a title-challenging force.
It was in November 2019, just five months after guiding Spurs to the Champions League final, that Pochettino was sacked following a disappointing start to the campaign.
PSG has been his only management job in the interim but he has been linked with others, notably the Manchester United post that at one point also seemed like ‘a matter of time.’
Pochettino has maintained his profile through TV work and has also seen a bit of the world, but now the Premier League will welcome him back at the beginning of next season.
His time with Spurs ended in a bruising fashion, with the hangover from losing the Champions League final to Liverpool lasting into the following season.
They were 14th in the Premier League, out of the Carabao Cup and had been thrashed 7-2 at home by Bayern Munich in the Champions League when Daniel Levy drew a line under the most successful period in the club’s modern history.
Needing time to decompress, Pochettino was never likely to jump straight into another job and the Covid pandemic soon had the world locked down anyway.
Pochettino celebrates with Daniel Levy after Tottenham reached the 2019 Champions League final in dramatic fashion against Ajax
They lost vs Liverpool, however, and just a few months later Pochettino was shown the door
A 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League was one of Pochettino’s last game in the Spurs job
By the latter part of 2020, his name was being linked to Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came under intense pressure following a humiliating 6-1 home loss to Jose Mourinho’s Spurs and a Champions League shocker against Istanbul Basaksehir.
Reports in November 2020 said United had sounded out Pochettino’s representatives, knowing he was keen to manage the club at some point.
As an added bonus, they wouldn’t have to pay Spurs any compensation as that particular deadline had passed in the May.
Around that time, Pochettino made an appearance on Sky’s Monday Night Football to perform a metaphorical fluttering of the eyelashes in United’s direction.
‘I am always ready to be involved in the game again. I love football. It’s my passion, not my job,’ he said.
‘It’s difficult; we are inside, we are working, we are doing things but it is not the same thing as being involved every day, to share it with your players, your staff and your club. You miss that.’
Pochettino was linked with the Manchester United job every time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went through a rough patch of results
Pochettino appeared on Sky’s Monday Night Football in 2020 as he fluttered his eyelashes at United and other suitors
Although United crashed out of the Champions League, Solskjaer turned the ship around domestically and saved his job.
And the Pochettino-shaped shadow looming over the Norwegian soon disappeared when Poch accepted the PSG role early in January 2021.
Ironically, Thomas Tuchel, like Pochettino 12 months earlier, had been dismissed mere months after guiding them to the Champions League final.
Pochettino spent two seasons at the Parc des Princes as a player and was well liked, so it was an attractive job to take on. ‘The club has always held a special place in my heart,’ he said at his unveiling.
‘Welcome back captain’ read the huge banner put inside an empty stadium ahead of his first game, with the pandemic still locking fans outside.
He was unable to catch Lille and win Ligue 1 but PSG did win the French Cup – the first major trophy of his managerial career – and they embarked on a run to the Champions League semi-finals.
The highlight was a devastating Kylian Mbappe hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Barcelona in the Nou Camp, plus a 3-2 away win at Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.
Pochettino won the French league with PSG but endured a turbulent time off the pitch
The manager never saw eye-to-eye with sporting director Leonardo (middle) during his tenure
But PSG and Pochettino wouldn’t reach another final, losing both legs of their semi-final with Manchester City.
Still the Qatari owners were impressed enough to extend Pochettino’s initial 18-month contract through until 2023.
Ahead of his second season, PSG went out and signed Lionel Messi and although they dominated en route to winning the league title, they fell short in Europe once again, losing to Real Madrid in the last-16.
When Pochettino was sacked on July 5, six weeks after the final game of the season, it was mainly down to off-field factors.
Pochettino was never adept at handling the constant politics behind the scenes at PSG. He didn’t like the interfering forces in the club’s ownership and didn’t see eye-to-eye with sporting director Leonardo, who left the club just before him.
He was also unable to establish his authority over a dressing room chock-full of stars. On top of it all, the team didn’t play attractive enough football.
Pochettino’s PSG boasted Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi up front but the brand of football wasn’t deemed to be attractive enough
The PSG job did, however, earn Pochettino the first trophies of his managerial career – the French Cup in 2021 and the Ligue 1 title the following season
When asked in a Marca interview if PSG were the most ungrateful club, the manager said: ‘Totally agree. Everyone underestimates the work of the coach. When we won it was due to individual talent and if we lost it was the coach’s fault.’
Pochettino had been linked with the Man United job even when in charge at PSG but by the time he was out of work again, Erik ten Hag had already been installed and that particular train continues to run very late.
The PSG experience left something of a scar and Pochettino again took his time and was very selective about his next move. A club ready to challenge for trophies was a prerequisite rather than a project to build up.
He had a large presence during the World Cup in Qatar, working as a pundit for the BBC and sitting down for interviews with many other outlets.
Pochettino told talkSPORT: ‘I miss the Premier League. Why not [come back], we are open! I am really open. I love England and I am living between London and Barcelona, but more in London.
‘My house, my home… I love to be in England.’
Erik ten Hag had already been appointed as Man United’s new manager when Poch left PSG
Pochettino in the stands at the Qatar World Cup alongside son Sebastiano (right) and his assistant coach Jesus Perez (left)
The Argentine sat alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the Japan vs Spain match
He also showed there were no hard feelings after PSG by watching another game with president Nasser Al-Khelaifi
In another interview, he refused to rule out international management – including the England job had Gareth Southgate quit – but made clear he preferred the day-to-day engagement of the club game.
In Qatar with son Sebastiano and his coaching assistant Jesus Perez, Pochettino even watched the Japan vs Spain match alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino and showed there were no hard feelings against PSG by watching another with president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
On March 2, Pochettino marked his 51st birthday with family and then jetted off with wife Karina for a holiday to Japan after the country fully re-opened its borders post-Covid.
He posted Instagram snaps of the couple admiring Spring cherry blossoms and exploring the city of Kyoto and the famous Todai-Ji Temple in Nara.
He was asked about his next career moves while working as a pundit for the BBC
There was also time for enjoying the sunshine during the World Cup tournament in Qatar
Pochettino and wife Karina admire the cherry blossoms of Japan during their recent holiday
The couple visited Kyoto and Nara during their tour of Japan last month
Pochettino returned from his family holiday to Japan just as Antonio Conte left Tottenham
Pochettino then caused a flutter of excitement among Spurs fans when he posted a picture on the plane home from Japan hours before the club sacked Antonio Conte.
Alas, there is to be no reunion on White Hart Lane. For Spurs fans, seeing Pochettino in the tracksuit of Chelsea next season will take a bit of getting used to and getting over.
Now the Argentine can immerse himself once more into that day-to-day graft he so relishes, initially enjoying a bit of time and distance to observe Chelsea’s problems.
He wasn’t the first choice of many in the Chelsea hierarchy but Nagelsmann became spooked when he discovered other candidates were being considered, having believed he was a shoo-in.
As Pochettino himself said, sometimes ‘you just have to wait.’
The manager celebrates his 51st birthday with wife Karina and sons Sebastiano and Maurizio
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