Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly on borrowed time as Paris Saint-Germain manager and he doesn’t appear to have too many on the pitch or in the stands in his corner.
Fans have grown disillusioned in the Argentine’s tenure, with his spell in the French capital so far summed up by a miserable Champions League collapse to Real Madrid.
A Ligue 1 title win appeared to do little to appease fans as many left and those who remained chose to jeer and boo the former Tottenham boss.
Mauricio Pochettino is said to be on the brink of the sack as manager of Paris Saint-Germain
Nice knocked them out of the Coupe de France and while he has won three trophies as PSG boss, there has long been a sense that a parting of ways has never felt too far away.
The question now is, if he is given the boot, how did it unravel so quickly for Pochettino and why?
On paper he had a team many had only seen put together in FIFA Ultimate Team and had access to an embarrassment of riches. And yet their dream prize of European glory evaded them once more.
Sportsmail looks at how it has gone sour for Pochettino in Paris…
Managing the egos
The greatest attacking trio ever assembled? On paper at least there was an argument that could be made.
From day one there were question marks how it would work. Who would be Option A? And who would accept being the third wheel?
PSG’s monthly wage bill is reportedly almost 10 times higher than the Ligue 1 average and much of that is down to Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and summer recruit Lionel Messi.
The trio hold so much power at the club that Pochettino has even allowed for special treatment, confessing the triumvirate are significantly less likely to be substituted compared to team-mates.
‘They are the best in the world. Why take them off the pitch?’ the Argentine told French outlet L’Equipe.
‘Even if they do not play as one expects, with their talent they can be decisive at any time. That is why the club made the financial effort it did to sign them.
A front-line of Neymar (left), Kylian Mbappe (middle) and Lionel Messi (right) brought issues
Messi (left) was unimpressed at being substituted off by Pochettino (right) back in September
‘You cannot evaluate this type of footballer the same as others, because they are different.’
That’s not to say all has been well between Pochettino and his star-studded attack.
Back in September, Messi hit the headlines when he appeared to snub Pochettino after being hauled off with 15 minutes to go against Lyon.
In addition to his furious glance, Messi also made a gesture with his hands apart indicating that he didn’t understand the decision.
Then there was the reported row between Neymar and Mbappe before facing Man City in the Champions League.
Mbappe was irritated with his team-mate after becoming frustrated that he wasn’t receiving enough passes.
The World Cup winner was taken off in a win against Montpellier and leaked footage from French TV channel Canal + showed Mbappe was furious with Neymar, something Pochettino quickly had to play down.
So it hasn’t been straightforward, and frankly, it hasn’t worked given they are watching the semi-finals of the Champions League at home like the rest of us. They got turned over by Nice in the French Cup, too, just to compound it all.
Pochettino had to play down a row between Mbappe (right) and Neymar earlier this season
There were flashes of brilliance but Pochettino never seemed to find a system that worked
The image to go with PSG’s latest title triumph was that of the swathes of empty seats littered around the Parc des Princes.
Some fans had had enough. Many who stayed chose to jeer Pochettino, Messi and some of the other stars.
A Ligue 1 title? Please. Where is the Champions League? That seems to be the attitude of the club’s ultras and L’Equipe reflected the widespread discontent with their headline ‘A star without shine’ to mark Pochettino’s first league title win.
‘We celebrated among ourselves,’ Mbappe said.
‘We were able to put ourselves in a safe place very early in the season and we were never worried by any competitor. So we’re very happy. Nobody spoils my pleasure. We make a lot of sacrifices and we want to leave our name in history.’
Pochettino has looked to placate angry supporters by praising their ‘freedom of expression’ but he is human and the jeers have no doubt done little to improve his experience in Paris.
‘In our last games and especially since the Champions League, our fans have expressed their anger,’ Pochettino said at the start of the month.
Some of PSG’s supporters left before the final whistle as they remain angry with the team
‘I have always said that it is freedom of expression. They have the freedom to express their opinion.
‘I think in a 90-minute game I would like to have our fans on our side. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There is nothing we can do about it.
‘A tenth title would be very important for the club. It’s not something I underestimate or think isn’t important. It is very important. We are talking about a history of only nine league titles.
‘We have the chance to win the tenth one and I think doing it together would be a better way. It’s sad that we can’t share this joy with everyone, because everyone deserves it.’
Looking back, Pochettino had a testy relationship with PSG’s supporters as a player, with one particular incident at an airport leaving its mark.
After PSG threw away a two-goal lead at Guingamp to end up losing 3-2, furious fans three stones at the team plane after following them to a small airport in Brittany called Saint Brieuc.
‘We can’t tolerate things like that, the violence that happened,’ Pochettino said at the time.
‘I will not tolerate what happened at the airport even if I understand the anger. We must ask all the supporters’ groups to be united – we must not be at daggers drawn with the supporters because nothing will work.
‘We were not frightened at the airport. We were frightened because of the plane, that the supporters might abuse the plane and that something serious could happen afterwards.’
Fans have struggled to adopt Pochettino since he arrived. Until a matter of months ago he was still living in a Paris hotel while his family remained in London, giving the impression his stint at the Parc des Princes was to be far from permanent.
Constant links to Manchester United didn’t help and then there was two failed Champions League campaigns that were impossible to sugar-coat.
Champions League woes
A two-legged semi-final defeat to Manchester City was one thing but snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the last-16 to Real Madrid really was pure misery for PSG.
While nobody in the corridors of power at PSG seems to want to explicitly say it is Champions League or bust these days, that is exactly the way the Qatari owners operate.
And so to see their lead against Real Madrid vanish via a Karim Benzema hat-trick left an incredibly sour taste that fans and executives have struggled to really shake off since.
‘We were the best team over the two games,’ a stunned Pochettino said after the second-leg defeat.
A hat-trick from Karim Benzema knocked PSG out of the Champions League in the last-16
‘Football is about managing match moments well. It’s true that we’ve collapsed a bit. It’s impossible to explain.’
Thomas Tuchel took PSG to the final, only to lose out to Bayern Munich, but ever since the Parisians appear to be taking steps backwards despite the wage bill still leaving eyes watering across the continent.
Defeat to Real Madrid has driven a wedge between the team, staff and supporters and while director of football Leonardo, who also finds himself on the hot-seat come the end of the season, has pleaded for calm, both he and Pochettino will know the end feels near.
‘We shouldn’t throw everything in the bin,’ Leonardo said.
‘We shouldn’t start from scratch after every loss. The objective is to win the Champions League, and until half-time we were fine.’
Look at Liverpool right now. Look at Man City. PSG’s individuals simply cannot compete with squads as slick as those and someone will carry the can as a result.
It marks the lowest point of Pochettino’s time in charge of PSG given the desire for that trophy
POCHETTINO’S NEXT CLUB ODDS
Real Madrid 7/2
Borussia Dortmund 9/1
Man Utd 10/1
Odds provided by Betfair
So, what’s next?
As frustrated as Pochettino has found himself at times in Paris he remains well thought of.
A reunion with Tottenham, should Antonio Conte walk out the door at the end of the season, is the bookmakers’ favourite destination for him.
That is complicated by the fact that Conte’s deal does not have a break clause and given they could still finish in the top four and secure Champions League football, there is far from an open door for Pochettino if he departs PSG.
Then there is the age-old link to Real Madrid.
Los Blancos president Florentino Perez has been a fan of the Argentine for a long time, and Pochettino has previously said that he would be interested in taking over at the Bernabeu.
Manchester United’s move for Erik ten Hag has taken the Old Trafford hot-seat off the market for the foreseeable future while Juventus are likely to stick with Massimiliano Allegri despite his underwhelming return.
Bookmakers believe if he is disposed of by PSG, a homecoming to Tottenham is most likely