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Mauricio Pochettino: “The 10th league title should not be underestimated”

EXCLUSIVE

Quite rare in the media, the 50-year-old Argentine coach gave an exclusive interview to Europe 1. After winning the French championship, his first as a coach and the 10th in club history, Mauricio Pochettino, in office since January 2021, looks back on his season and that of his players, analyzes French football, deciphers his management of the workforce, talks about his future and also the Parisian supporters.

On the 10th title of champion of France: “It was a dream”

“It’s a great satisfaction. I’m very happy and proud. It was a dream. I arrived here in 2001 as a player. We didn’t have the opportunity to win the championship. Today, this dream has come true. I’m very happy to win a title with Paris Saint-Germain, the 10th title is a very good thing for the club.”

His record as a coach: “The 10th title should not be underestimated”

“Expectations were high. It is clear that Paris Saint-Germain’s main objective in recent years has been the Champions League, but the 10th title for a 50-year-old club should not be underestimated. of history, 10 titles. I think that puts us in a good position in France and it is true that it may not seem like much for a club like PSG which always wants to win the Champions League. Sometimes it plays tricks on us I think we have to give value to this title because we have to cement the history of the club with titles I arrived last year, the team was third in the table, with a lot of problems, with 12 players injuries, the COVID… we didn’t win the championship and it was a great frustration, that’s why it has to be valued, although it is true that the disappointment was great not to win the Champions League.”

The value of this title in his career: “A title won by the team”

“It’s a title I will always love as a manager. I’ve been in teams like Espanyol Barcelona, ​​Southampton and Tottenham where it’s very difficult to win a league title…that’s the first time I’ve had the chance to do it, with Paris Saint-Germain, and for me it’s very special. It’s a title won by the team, won by the 30 players. The participation of all the players is fundamental”

His view of French football: “We have to give him a lot of credit”

“We are in the world champion country and sometimes, when talking about the French championship, we minimize it when we have to give it a lot of credit. France is a hotbed of incredible players. The national team achieves great results. There are great coaches like Didier Deschamps and many French players play all over the world. I think French football is underrated. When you work here, you realize that it’s aggressive football, football dynamic, very physical football. France is one of the main countries that feeds the major leagues. The French league has a very high level.”

How he handles all the rumours: ‘I take it naturally and calmly’

“I’m a calm person. I’m a person who gives importance to things that really deserve it. I’m not only calm in football but also in everyday life. I understand that being in Paris Saint-Germain means being very exposed. That there are a lot of rumours… I take it naturally and calmly. When I prepared to become a coach, hoping to one day coach a club like Paris Saint-Germain, all my experience as a player, the preparation I had and the experience I acquired in previous clubs helped me to see things calmly and to have a more accurate view of the reality of things, to not to experience parallel realities that affect me negatively.”

On his future: “I will give my point of view”

“I have one year left on my contract if that’s what you mean. My desire and challenge to start a new season is intact, regardless of any rumors that may exist. Of course, there is also the management of the club that always makes the decisions. Which are always respectable. They are the ones who have to decide on the new project and, logically, I, as a coach, will give my point of view and I will also participate in explaining the past, explaining the current situation and what the future situation might be.”

On his other passions: “I love rugby”

“My passion is football and my family. Football and my friends. Football and my country, where my parents and grandparents grew up. The country where I was born. It’s my passion. There are other sports that I like. I like rugby because I think there are values ​​in rugby that would be very welcome in football. I used to talk about that when I was a footballer here at PSG, and there was Fabien Galthié, who was captain of Stade Français as well as Diego Dominguez and many other players. I always said, when I was captain of PSG and that Fabien and Diego were captains of Stade Français , that we have to transfer the values, the feeling of group and belonging to a team to football. Even if it is a different sport with different characteristics.”

On his idols: “Maradona had impressive charisma and energy”

“My idol has always been Diego Maradona. He wasn’t just my idol when I was little and watched him play. I grew up thinking about Maradona and when I had the opportunity to meet him and playing with him, he became more than an idol. I got to know him more closely. He made you feel like you were his teammate. I remember the first day I saw him, I was at Newell’s Old Boys. The first thing he said to me was: ‘You are going to be my teammate and you are going to be the best player in your position in Argentina.’ Maradona had an impressive charisma and energy. He is a unique player, not only for his talent but also for his leadership and his human value.”

On problems with supporters: ‘It’s something that affects you’

“Of course it’s not a pleasant thing to experience. We’ve had games at the Parc des Princes where you’re sad because your fans aren’t cheering for the team. It’s something that affects you “My children are fans of Paris Saint-Germain and Espanyol because their father played there. My children had always dreamed of coming to the Parc des Princes. We have always talked about the atmosphere here and this situation makes me sad it affects me because I was a PSG player and now I’m a coach in this club. I hope it will be resolved. I think it’s everyone’s wish. We must seek to understand in order to achieve the objectives we have set ourselves.”

On his management of stars and the workforce: “What was missing was time”

“I think things went well. There were no problems. Football needs time. The timing is different from club to club. I think the team would have gradually improved as it has done in the last games. You have to put it in context and explain the circumstances. Let’s look back. When we played the champions trophy in Tel Aviv against Lille, half of the team was on vacation. We played with youngsters like Kalimuendo, who are now playing in Lens, and other players who had been training for a day or two like Danilo or Kimpembe… we lost. And during the press conference, people ask me if I feel threatened as a coach. I think they take things out of context from the start.”

“Then there were a few international games. Players leave and come back. We were playing every two or three days and on top of all that comes COVID, injuries, suspensions. We had very little time for that everything falls into place and for us to achieve a collective performance, which is the most difficult. It takes time for individuals and for this to translate on the field into a collective game, it takes hours together and we don’t “We haven’t had that. It hasn’t all been too bad. There is a process where what was missing was time. A lot of people say Paris Saint-Germain don’t need us to gives time. But you can give time to Liverpool, you can give time to Manchester City or Chelsea. It is important that we understand that the context was not the most favorable for these players to achieve this collective union and be able to perform. That’s no excuse, m But it is an exercise in reflection that we must do. We now have to think about many other things that need to be fixed, that need to be done differently in the future. We know it very well, and the club knows it very well. There are things that need to change in the immediate future.”

On criticism of Lionel Messi: ‘Next season will be different’

“You can’t talk about Messi that way. It’s like when I talk about Maradona. I’m not talking about an ordinary player. Messi is on the same level as Diego Maradona. It’s clear that Barcelona’s move to the Paris Saint Germain was a change in which a process of adaptation was necessary, certain circumstances did not allow him to feel as comfortable as in Barcelona where he had spent 20 years. -club flag. To judge Messi in this way is unfair. I have no doubts about his quality. Messi has enough talent to do what he has to do. He will do it. Next season will be a completely different for him. It was a year of learning, and not only on a professional level coming to Paris Saint-Germain, in a new league and with new teammates, but also on a family level. You have to take that into account. is a significant upset that can affect a player.”

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