Ligue 1 - Mid-Season ReviewNov 17
Saint Etienne v Paris Saint-Germain: Watch Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG bow exclusively live on BT Sport
After a prolonged absence, the former Tottenham manager returns to the club he enjoyed two and a half seasons at as a player. Will he get off to the perfect start?
After 13 months on the sidelines, Mauricio Pochettino takes charge of Paris Saint-Germain for the first time on Wednesday night and all of the action is live and exclusive on BT Sport.
The former Tottenham manager, who guided them to the Champions League final within five years of taking over, returns to the club he made 95 appearances for as a player between 2001 and 2003.
The 48-year-old Argentine has been weighing up his options since his Spurs dismissal and the allure of the French billionaires was ultimately too good to refuse.
Lauded for instilling and fostering a coherent collective identity in north London, he faces a race against time to build a team in his image at Parc des Princes.
PSG’s Qatari owners are desperate to land the Champions League and patience is wearing thin after a near miss last season. Credit in the bank is unlikely to be a mitigating factor should Pochettino fail to make an impact.
His first task is returning the nine-time Ligue 1 champions to the top of the table after the club made a relatively modest start to the domestic season under previous incumbent Thomas Tuchel.
With a huge Champions League double-header against Barcelona also on the horizon in February, Pochettino must hit the ground running.
This club has always held a special place in my heart
- Mauricio Pochettino
He must also win over the club’s enviable array of superstars, namely Neymar and Kylian Mbappe who are both approaching the final year of their contracts.
Mbappe is leading the goalscoring charts and with rumours circling about the 22-year-old’s future, the former PSG captain will make tying down the sought-after forward a priority.
Persistent rumours of off field ill-discipline leave Pochettino with a tricky balancing act between a firm hand and free and easy approach, too.
Claude Puel, another former Southampton boss, will welcome PSG’s latest manager to Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Wednesday evening.
Saint-Etienne, who sit 14th, complete with ex-Premier League players Mathieu Debuchy and Wahbi Khazri, shouldn’t provide too stern a test for last season’s Champions League runners-up.
They are unbeaten in the last six fixtures prior to the break, but only won once in that period at Bordeaux.
PSG were comfortable 4-0 winners against Strasbourg last time out with Mbappe and Everton loanee Moise Kean among the scorers. Now, with a new manager in a new year, they will look at Pochettino’s emotional return as the ideal starting point to kick on.
“I am really happy and honoured to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain,” said Pochettino.
“I would like to thank the club’s management for the trust they have placed in me. As you know, this club has always held a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes.
“I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility and am eager to work with some of the world’s most talented players. This team has fantastic potential and my staff and I will do everything we can to get the best for Paris Saint-Germain in all competitions.”
PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi added: “We are very pleased to welcome Mauricio Pochettino as first team coach. I am proud to see our former captain returning to Paris Saint-Germain, as the club has always remained his home.”
Watch Pochettino’s PSG bow against Saint Etienne from 8pm on BT Sport 1 HD on Wednesday 6 January.