Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel… Is Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG the worst of the QSI era?


Coaching is far from easy. This is perhaps even more true for the one who occupies the PSG bench. A club that nurtures the highest ambitions with exceptional means. In office for a little over a year, Mauricio Pochettino was able to realize the phenomenon. If its formation is firmly established at the top of the Ligue 1 classification, it has suffered a significant wave of criticism at each of its outings, or almost. This paradox is not new. From Carlo Ancelotti to Thomas Tuchel via Unai Emery and Laurent Blanc, all the Argentine’s predecessors who lasted at least a year under the QSI era have been confronted with it.

The requirement may seem disproportionate when it comes to PSG. It is as much about the results as the manner. To put it into caricature, this club is supposed to win all its matches by offering the most attractive game. This is Pochettino’s challenge, like that of all the coaches who worked in Paris before him during the QSI era. But the Argentinian is probably the one who arouses the most expectations as his squad still seems to be superior to what the capital club has known so far. Still, his PSG may be the worst since the Qatari owner’s arrival. At all levels.

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Accounting balance sheet

  • 1. Unai Emery
    2.42 points / game
    2.74 goals scored / game
    0.81 goals conceded / game

From a purely statistical point of view, it is under the management of the Spaniard that PSG has been the most successful. In all competitions, Emery has the best points average for a Parisian coach in the QSI era, and shares the best goalscoring average with Thomas Tuchel. This may seem paradoxical for a coach who had abandoned the title of champion in Monaco in 2017 and who never passed the stage of the knockout stages of the Champions League with Paris. The purely numerical data place him at the top of the coaches in the QSI era, but not his record in Ligue 1 and C1.

Unai Emery on the PSG bench – 2017

Credit: Panoramic

  • 2. Laurent Blanc
    2.36 points / game
    2.26 goals scored / game
    0.73 goals conceded / match

The President’s balance sheet quite similar to those of Emery and Thomas Tuchel. If we have to see significant differences with the Spaniard and the German, it is on the average of goals scored, lower under the direction of the French, and that of goals conceded, the best for a coach under the QSI era. The former coach of the Blues has, above all, almost seized all the possible domestic titles in Paris. Only the Coupe de France 2014 escaped him. Blanc has also systematically qualified PSG for the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But he never got past that stage.

  • 3. Thomas Tuchel
    2.35 points / game
    2.74 goals scored / game
    0.9 goals conceded / game

The record of the German technician is very slightly lower than those of Emery and Blanc on the average of points per match, but his case perfectly illustrates the limit of the figures. Because Tuchel is the one who managed the most successful season among PSG coaches under the QSI era in 2020, reaching the Champions League final, a first in the club’s history, after winning the title of champion of France, the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue. Passed to a match of the perfect season, Tuchel had however had a more delicate first year despite the title, with an elimination in the round of 16 of C1 and a defeat in the final of the Coupe de France.

Thomas Tuchel during PSG-Leipzig in the Champions League.

Credit: Getty Images

  • 4. Mauricio Pochettino
    2.21 points / game
    2.22 goals scored / game
    0.98 goal conceded / game

As of now, there isn’t much to make the case for the Argentine. Only Carlo Ancelotti is worse than him in the average of points and goals scored per match, and it is under his management that Paris records its highest average of conceded goals per match. The loss of the title in favor of Lille last season further tarnishes his balance sheet. But he is boosted by qualification for the semi-finals of the Champions League last spring, after eliminating Barça and Bayern, and his current first place in L1. While waiting for the next few months which will define the success, or not, of his career at PSG if he were to leave next summer.

  • 5. Carlo Ancelotti
    2.13 points / game
    2.03 goals scored / game
    0.94 goals conceded / game

It is totally logical to find the Italian in last place on the statistical balance sheet of Parisian coaches under the QSI era. PSG was a huge job when he was appointed to replace Antoine Kombouaré in January 2012. The current Real Madrid coach lacked the quality and depth of his successors. He has also made a clear contribution to their success by raising the level of standards and professionalization of a club that started from (very) far in these two areas. This did not prevent him from being champion and quarter-finalist of the C1 for his only full season at the club, in 2012-13.

Collective expression

It was under his leadership that PSG had a really marked style. A possession game embodied by the Motta-Verratti-Matuidi trio in the midfield, which guaranteed both control of the ball and the defensive solidity of the capital club. A perfectly clear pattern of play in an immutable 4-3-3 system that the French coach was obviously wrong to abandon for the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester City in 2016. The White era n Nevertheless, the success of PSG was also based on its collective superiority, beyond the quality of its individualities.

Laurent Blanc during PSG – Chelsea – 2016

Credit: Panoramic

Like Blanc, Tuchel has a very marked game philosophy, even if it differs from that of the Frenchman. The German tried to set up his famous counter-pressing in Paris despite the constraints, in particular of attackers not sufficiently concerned with defensive work and the imbalance of a depopulated workforce in midfield. For that, he had to juggle the different systems and the profile of the men, often lining up a 4-4-2 to highlight his attacking individualities and replacing Marquinhos in the middle to balance his team. Tuchel was not really able to go to the end of his ideas, but his PSG still gave off a game identity.

The Italian is in a totally different register from Blanc and Tuchel, much more pragmatic. This style of play may seem easier to put in place, but the Italian’s work was ultimately much larger than that of his successors. After legitimately groping, he finally succeeded in his business in the second half of the 2012-13 season, culminating in the Champions League quarter-final second leg in Barcelona (1-1), where Paris competed in the game with one of the references of the moment despite his elimination, mainly due to his lack of realism.

Carlo Ancelotti PSG 2012-2013

Credit: AFP

The Spaniard had intentions, but he put them in the background after a first season marked by the loss of the title to Monaco in Ligue 1, and the cataclysm experienced in Barcelona in the knockout stages of the Champions League . With the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé in the following seasons, he above all sought to put in place a system to promote the trio formed by the Brazilian, the Frenchman and Edinson Cavani rather than imposing the philosophy of play which had made him successful. in Seville. Emery has thus « suffered » his workforce more than he has acted on it.

The Argentinian has been in place for a year but his PSG is still unreadable. It is all the more obvious that Pochettino had imposed himself in the Premier League by the style of play he had been able to give to Southampton then to Tottenham. For the moment, it does not arrive there in Paris. Of all the teams of the QSI era, his is the most messy when it comes to ball outings, the most difficult to resist opposing pressure, the least consistent in the positioning of players to criss-cross the pitch and the most dependent on his individualities. It’s almost a collective nothingness with the best workforce of the Qatari era. But at least his PSG can only progress…

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