Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Guardiola: Pochettino an excellent manager despite lack of trophies

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 23 Nov 2021

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Pep Guardiola has insisted a lack of trophies does not stop Mauricio Pochettino from being considered among the world’s top managers.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino has been widely tipped as the leading contender to take over at Manchester United following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking on Sunday.

Pochettino arrived at the Parc des Princes in January and missed out on Ligue 1 and Champions League success in his first half-season in charge.

However, the Argentinian has lifted the Trophee des Champions and Coupe de France this year – his first cup triumphs following five trophyless years with Tottenham.

With speculation mounting that Pochettino is interested in the United job, Guardiola has defended the ex-Espanyol and Southampton coach’s major trophies record.

“I am sure managers become better every year. Every season you have a lot of learnings. I am pretty sure [Pochettino] is an excellent manager,” he said ahead of City’s showdown with PSG on Wednesday.

“You can be a top manager and not win titles. For the managers who have a chance to win, it is because you are at top clubs with good investment and top players. 

“That doesn’t mean managers in the Championship or not at the top of the Premier League aren’t excellent managers.”

City welcome PSG to the Etihad Stadium requiring a point to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, while a win will seal top spot in Group A with a game to spare.

PSG are winless in three games on their travels in the competition and could go without an away victory throughout the group stage for the first time since 2004-05.

English champions City were beaten 2-0 in the reverse fixture in Paris two months ago, with Lionel Messi getting off the mark with his first of four goals for PSG to date in all competitions.

PSG’s travelling party is packed full of superstar attackers and Guardiola acknowledged there is little advice he can give his players when it comes to stopping Messi in particular.

“It’s so difficult. Sometimes when he has the ball he doesn’t know what he’s going to do – so imagine you have to know what he is going to do,” Guardiola said.

“There are players who you can say if they will go right or left. When he has the ball, not even he knows exactly what he is going to do.

“I cannot tell the players what he will do, but hey, it happens with Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe, with [Angel] Di Maria, with all the players up front in this team.

“Every player could be a complete star in any team around the world, and all four are in the same team. But I am still glad and happy that he is still playing at the level he plays.”

City have scored 15 goals in the Champions League so far this season, a tally bettered only by Bayern Munich’s 17, with the Citizens averaging 3.4 expected goals per game.

Last year’s beaten finalists are averaging a goal every 37 minutes in all competitions this term, meanwhile, despite playing without a recognised striker through the middle.

Guardiola, who is hopeful of having Jack Grealish back from injury in midweek, explained that playing with or without a number nine is not too dissimilar.

“If a full back goes into midfield you can say he is an attacking midfielder, for example” he said.

“The movements of the players – on the tactics board you put out the names, but after, everyone has permission to drive in the box and has permission to get back and help.”

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