Pep Guardiola talks up ‘excellent’ Mauricio Pochettino despite lack of trophies

Pochettino, who has been linked with the vacancy at Manchester United, takes his PSG side to face City in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola talks up ‘excellent’ Mauricio Pochettino despite lack of trophies

By Andy Hampson, PA

Pep Guardiola believes Mauricio Pochettino can be considered an elite manager without major trophy triumphs to his name.

Guardiola comes up against the former Tottenham boss as Manchester City host the Argentinian’s Paris St Germain side in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Pochettino has been linked with the new managerial vacancy at Manchester United but his only silverware as a boss came in the Coupe de France last season.

 

Guardiola said: “You can be a top manager and not win titles. The managers that have the chance to win the titles are at top, top clubs with good investments and exceptional players. Otherwise, for a manager, it is impossible to win.

“That doesn’t mean the managers in the Championship or not in the top six of the Premier League cannot be excellent managers in tactics, communication, leading. It’s not necessary to win titles.”

Pochettino, 49, did not win a trophy in his five years at Spurs and he missed out on both Ligue 1 and the Champions League after taking over at PSG in January.

He could change that this season with his side 11 points clear in the French title race and Guardiola feels he is a better manager than in the past.

Pochettino (left) is being linked with the vacancy at Manchester United created by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking
Pochettino (left) is being linked with the vacancy at Manchester United created by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “I’m pretty sure the managers get better. Every season we go through you have a lot of learnings and I’m pretty sure he’s an excellent manager.”

Pochettino has a good record against Guardiola having been the first manager to beat his City side in 2016 and edged them out in the Champions League quarter-finals of 2019.

PSG then beat City 2-0 at the Parc des Princes in September, although that scoreline was generally considered to flatter the hosts.

Group A has since turned round with City now in top spot and needing only a point from their second meeting to secure their place in the last 16 for a ninth successive year.

Guardiola insists his past meetings with Pochettino will have no bearing on this latest clash.

City need just a point to reach the last 16
City need just a point to reach the last 16 (Zac Goodwin/PA)

He said: “It’s completely different – different countries, players, shapes. Even with the same manager and same team from one year it can be different – new players, many things can happen.

“The situation is different, completely different to Tottenham when he was there.”

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is confident City can get the better of Pochettino this time.

Gundogan, speaking alongside Guardiola at a press conference, said: “Unfortunately he was able to beat us in the past quite regularly but I think, in the modern game, all teams have started to know each other quite well.

“I don’t think there are much elements left to surprise. For us it is more the approach of the game, how we keep possession and create chances. I have no doubts we can do that in the best possible way.

City's Ilkay Gunodgan is confident of beating PSG
City’s Ilkay Gunodgan is confident of beating PSG (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I have no doubts we will be able to play a good game and get the points.”

United’s troubles this season, which led to the sacking of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday, have also brought scrutiny on the club’s off-field operation.

City’s structure by contrast is proving highly successful with Guardiola thriving alongside director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Guardiola said: “He’s exceptional. He is always there. Without him I would not be here and he showed me especially in the bad moments who he is.

“Man City is incredibly lucky to have this person. I see many things behind the scenes and know exactly what he is doing for the club.”

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