Didin, an old member of Paris Saint-Germain, has not stopped smiling since Saturday. He hasn’t done it in a long time. He cried when he saw Mauricio Pochettino return to the club as manager 20 years after being a player. Didine and Pochettino kissed for a long time and tears ran down the old man’s cheeks as they relived the many memories of their first time together. Sebastiano Pochettino, the son of Mauricio and the team’s new fitness coach, was five years old when his father joined PSG. Didina hadn’t forgotten him, and Sebastiano hadn’t forgotten the kitten either.

Pochettino’s return to Paris is like a family reunion, long after the last meeting. The club has changed a lot since 2001, but some people, like Didin, are still around and these familiar faces have warmed Pochettino’s heart.

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However, his first match wasn’t exactly a heartwarming experience for him. Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in Saint-Etienne was sometimes unbearable, but also disturbing. We saw a small touch of Poch, although it was expected; after only two training sessions and without nine players (Neymar, Mauro Icardi, Rafinha, Leandro Paredes, Presnel Kimembe, Alessandro Florenzi, Juan Bernat, Laivin Curzawa and Danilo Pereira), we could not expect a revolution.

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We saw Marco Verratti play higher on the field and witness the goal of Moises Keane (his 10th goal of the season in 16 games in all leagues). We need to see more tactical changes with more flexibility in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Other Herrera fell deep as the third right middle back, allowing right back Colin Dagba to climb much higher and Angel Di Maria to get between the lines. The line of defense held up as expected, but the counter-attack still lacks the necessary intensity and aggressiveness.

That’s what Pochettino and his team expected from the players. The Argentinean has stated in his new indictment that the trial will take some time. During the game he talked a lot, especially with Marquinhos and Verratti. He was very talkative, and his transition to the 4-4-2 formation after the hour made little impression. Of course this is not the result he wanted, but with limited time and a short list he will accept it.

I’m disappointed, he said after the game. We are the PSG and we wanted to win this game. I think there are many aspects that we can improve, we have many concepts that we want to implement, but we need time. This is just the beginning.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Pochettino’s debut as PSG coach did not end in a statement victory, but there is still much room for improvement. PHILIPPIES DESMASQUANTS/AFP via Getty Images

This is really only the beginning, and the four days of Pochettino’s new life have been crazy. Between his arrival in the French capital on Saturday and his departure for Wednesday’s game, he met the players, sports director Leonardo and club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi on Sunday, first trained the same day and then started working with the players on Monday before holding his press conference on Tuesday. Time’s up. He wanted it so badly, a source told ESPN. There was so much to do that he concentrated on what was important.

Pochettino will meet with Leonardo in the coming days to discuss the transfer window. We are in direct contact and are looking at all possibilities for transfers this month, he said Tuesday, without mentioning names. He didn’t want to talk about Christian Eriksen when asked, but sources told ESPN that PSG had told Inter Milan that they were not currently interested in Danish internationals.

Could Pochettino return to his former club Tottenham Hotspur and ask about Dele Alli? He wants the center? A creative actor? He is determined to keep Keane, who is currently on loan from Everton, and the two clubs have opened discussions to make the move permanent, as no purchase option was included in the contract last summer.


Then Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest developments and discuss the biggest stories. Streaming on ESPN+ (USA only).

The MTP’s transfer strategy will be unveiled very soon, but the most important thing for Pochettino at the moment is to build relationships with the players at his disposal. He’s a manager very close to the locker room. He will meet one-on-one with each of his team members in the next few days, but for now it is his mission to win their hearts. Yeah, he wants them to work hard, but he also wants them to love him. He made a joke with Neymar, smiled with Kylian Mbappe, talked with Di Maria during the first practice session, but he also made sure the players knew that discipline and hard work were important.

Are you tired already? He told them that Sebastiano was training them. Louder, more intense, he even screamed during the rondo. He even asked them to stop talking and work harder.

We can already see and feel the difference with Thomas Tuchel [Pochettino’s predecessor], a source told ESPN. Mauricio’s personality is very different. He’s much more of a leader, sometimes gentle, sometimes harsh. He knows what he wants and he’ll get it.

Marquinhos, who, like Pochettino, wears the captain’s bracelet for him at PSG, said: This is a new era for our team. We have to work harder to do what the director wants us to do.

The work will certainly be more intensive. In his first meeting with the media on Tuesday, the new director remained rather cautious, especially with regard to his tactics. We don’t like to talk about training, he said at his introductory press conference, via Zoom. For us it’s all about animation. Our philosophy is to be flexible, to have an open tactic where players can be in the best position to perform.

Pochettino wants Mbappe to show its full potential. He wants Neymar to play where he’s best. He wants to go far in the Champions League. He knows he has an exceptional team and is ready to take on the biggest challenges of his career so far. He started in a hurry with the field, but rather slowly on this one. So far, everything’s going according to plan.

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