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Mauricio Pochettino named new PSG manager

Sky Sports reports on how the Premier League is handling their significant COVID-19 spike, and Robbie Earle and Danny Higginbotham react to the latest developments.

Mauricio Pochettino has been named as the new manager of Paris Saint-Germain, with the Argentine coaching agreeing an initial 18-month contract to lead Les Parisiens.

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Pochettino, 48, previously played for, and captained, PSG and has a strong connection with the Ligue 1 club. PSG have an option year on Pochettino’s contract which they can extend until the summer of 2023.

PSG fired former coach Thomas Tuchel on Christmas Eve and just over a week later they have hired Pochettino.

Here’s what the former Tottenham boss had to say about his arrival in the French capital, as Pochettino is back in the game after a 13 month absence.

“I am extremely happy and honored to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain,” Pochettino said. “I thank the leaders of the club for placing their trust in me. As you know, this club has always kept a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories of it, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes. I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility, while also looking forward to working with some of the most talented players in the world.

“This team has fantastic potential and I will do everything with my staff to optimize the results of Paris Saint-Germain in all competitions. We will also do our utmost to give our team that combative and offensive playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved.”

That last point seems key, as although Tuchel took PSG to the UEFA Champions League final last season and deliverd back-to-back Ligue 1 titles, the play on the pitch was often underwhelming and too pragmatic.

Pochettino’s high-pressing style will certainly see the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe having to adapt their style, but his methods clearly worked as he proved successful at Southampton and Tottenham in the Premier League.

On both of those occasions he implemented a plan to rebuild teams where expectations where fairly low and he overachieved. At PSG it is very different, as anything other than winning the French title and not reaching the Champions League final would be seen as failure.

What do PSG expect from Pochettino?

Ultimately, PSG want to win the Champions League. That is it.

They’ve won everything else in recent seasons under Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery and Tuchel, but the biggest trophy their Qatari ownership want is to be crowned champions of Europe.

Pochettino worked wonders on a small budget at Tottenham, and he will now get the chance to coach Neymar, Mbappe and several other superstars.

With a very winnable game against Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona in the UCL last 16 coming up early in 2021, he has to make a deep run in the Champions League. PSG have likely acted now to boost their chances of that this season, and to nip in before other European giants try to sign up Pochettino between now and July.

One thing to keep an eye on: will the likes of Dele Alli and other players out of the picture at Tottenham want to sign for Poch? And what about his countryman, Lionel Messi? Intriguing when you start to connect the dots.

Can PSG’s stars play the ‘Pochettino Way’ and do they want to?

We know that Pochettino has a certain style of play. High-press. High-intensity. Total commitment.

Do we think Neymar and Mbappe will buy into this?

Maybe they don’t need to, but the other nine players on the pitch each week will have to work harder than they’ve ever worked before. Pochettino is a demanding coach who will ask his team to press high and be relentless.

Let’s see if PSG’s players are ready to do that, and if they’re not, they won’t last long under Pochettino.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports