Football News

“Do the players rule?” — Thierry Henry questions Mauricio Pochettino’s leadership at PSG

By Ben Green

Published: 11:37, 25 November 2021

Thierry Henry has questioned whether the players rule the roost in the PSG dressing room, putting Mauricio Pochettino’s leadership capabilities under the microscope.

The Parisians were comprehensively outplayed at the Etihad on Wednesday night as Manchester City ran out 2-1 victors to confirm top spot in Group A of the Champions League.

Pochettino named a star-studded line-up that included Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, and while the latter got on the scoresheet to break the deadlock, the contest was largely one-way traffic, and not in PSG’s favour.

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Mbappe opened the scoring just after the break, but Pep Guardiola’s men rallied and produced a comeback that saw Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus swing the momentum in their favour, with the Brazilian netting his 19th Champions League goal — now one more than compatriot Ronaldinho (18).

Following the contest, former France international Henry came out with a scathing criticism of PSG’s front three, believing Messi (whom he played alongside at Barcelona), Neymar and Mbappe did not work hard enough defensively.

“You know where the frustration comes from? It’s because [PSG] used to play at the back, so not seeing those guys come back hurts,” Henry said on CBS Sports.

“As an ex-striker, if you want to win the Champions League, you cannot now in the modern game defend with seven players. It’s impossible. I don’t care who you are.

“Teams that win titles and win the Champions League more… you need to have at least your front three facing the ball. I mean the bare minimum. We’re not asking you to chase guys to the corner flag. Face them, make it difficult, cut the passing side, allow them to go outside and then maybe now [the full-backs] will feel more secure about what’s happening behind them and in front of them.

“Right now, they’re too exposed. Teams in the league in France can’t expose them, but Man City can.”

He added: “Can the boss be allowed to have a go at them, or [do] the players rule? It is very difficult because if, at the top, the coach cannot be strong in terms of what he wants to do and how he likes to play, and he feels the pressure of maybe being happy with some, then it becomes difficult.

“You saw everyone that left PSG went on to win in Europe – [Unai] Emery and [Thomas] Tuchel – but Pochettino is not allowed to be Pochettino at times with that team.”

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