PSG need to improve, says poch after City display

Their lack of cohesion could spur him to join United, who may name Rangnick as interim

LONDON • The talk is that Mauricio Pochettino remains unsettled in Paris and he is reportedly tempted by the vacant manager role at Manchester United.

The Argentinian is said to be frustrated by Paris Saint-Germain's lack of collective spirit, which he forged over time at Southampton and Tottenham.

Pochettino to United might be a deal more plausible next summer, with the Red Devils set to appoint Ralf Rangnick as interim manager until the end of the season.

British media reported yesterday that United have identified the German, 63, who is currently head of sports and development at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, as a potential short-term successor to the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Athletic reported that Rangnick, the former RB Leipzig manager, had reached an agreement with United to take over, saying the deal was subject to Lokomotiv agreeing to release him from his contract.

Pochettino has, of course, shot down the rumours of a departure from Paris and said this week he was focused on the French giants.

Outwardly at the Etihad on Wednesday, he did not appear to be on the lookout for his next move but he would have been casting an envious eye at Pep Guardiola in the Manchester City dugout.

Now into his sixth season at the English Premier League champions, the Catalan has built a team, whereas Pochettino, appointed PSG coach in January, does not appear entirely comfortable with his expensively assembled squad.

City beat the visitors 2-1 at home in the Champions League to finish top of Group A. Gabriel Jesus tapped in from Bernardo Silva's pass on 76 minutes to settle an absorbing match after Raheem Sterling had cancelled out Kylian Mbappe's opener.

Lionel Messi had a low-key game and Sergio Ramos, named among the substitutes, was not called on to make his PSG debut.

Both sides have qualified for the knockout phase with a game to spare and they have equal designs on winning their maiden Champions League trophy.

But Guardiola's job is not at stake if City do not win the European Cup, while that is the target PSG's Qatari owners have set for every manager since their 2011 takeover.

According to ESPN, over the 90 minutes, City's players covered 111.7km, while PSG managed just 105.3km and the general lack of tracking back from their star trio of Mbappe, Neymar and Messi was startling.

Pochettino knows his players, finalists last year, will fail again if they play like they did on Wednesday in the knockout round.

"We have to improve. I am happy in the process," he said.

"Things are better than one month ago and much better than two months ago. Little by little, the team is going to improve."

On the speculation linking him to the United hot seat, he added: "The players know very well our situation, they know their situation. We are living in a business where rumours are there, sometimes, positive, sometimes, negative."

While there is uncertainty on the horizon at PSG, City look assured with Guardiola at the helm.

Despite missing the creative talent of Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, the hosts, who reached last season's final where they lost to Chelsea, progressed to the knockout stage for the ninth successive year and are among the favourites for European glory.

Guardiola said: "We did a really good game being ourselves - aggressive with the ball and defending well when we defended deep... The important thing is to be ourselves.

"What gives you consistency is how you perform and the way we are performing is really good. People are enjoying watching us and we are enjoying playing. Hopefully, we can sustain this for as long as possible."

At Anfield, already qualified Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent record in Group B with a 2-0 win over Porto.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2021, with the headline 'PSG need to improve, says poch after City display'. Subscribe