Mauricio Roberto Pochettino Trossero, to use his full name, or Poch if we’re looking to be eco and save letters, has a fine reputation as a manager. His career has progressed along a nice trajectory, beginning at Barcelona’s second club, Espanyol, before advancing to a smaller Premier League team, Southampton. From there, he moved to a regular top-four contender in Spurs and now, via a stint at PSG, to Chelsea, a side that has enjoyed incredible success in the 21st century and whose fans expect a title challenge – at the very least.
But whilst many speak very highly of the Argentine, and he has been linked with many top managerial positions over the years, there are those, certainly at Chelsea, who have questioned whether he is really a winner. This question is both literal and figurative but in this article, we will look solely at the question in terms of silverware. Poch is undoubtedly a very good manager… but has he ever won anything?
Poch the Player
Pochettino played 20 times for Argentina and was a very good centre back who showed leadership qualities from a very early age. He began his career with the huge Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, aided by legendary coach Marcelo Bielsa, who famously admired Poch’s legs whilst he slept. He spent most of his career with Espanyol over three separate spells, also playing for PSG and Bordeaux.
On the pitch he won major honours in Argentina with Newell’s and also earned a runners-up medal in the 1992 Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League). With Espanyol he won two Spanish cups, whilst with PSG he lifted the 2001 Intertoto Cup. This amounts to a career with far more silverware than most players but one that was not exactly glittering. However, in this feature we are more concerned with what, if anything, the Argentine has won as a manager.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Managerial Honours
Pochettino has spent the majority of his managerial career – in terms of number of games – in England. At the time of writing, he is the boss at Chelsea – although at the Blues things can change quickly! However, things appear to be on the up for Poch and his side as they thrashed Middlesbrough 6-1 on Tuesday the 23rd of January to book their spot in the 2023/24 League Cup final.
In the aftermath of that handsome victory, Poch spoke about his huge desire to win something in England, stating, “I’m desperate to win a title here”. Thus far he is yet to win a trophy in England, despite being in charge at Southampton and spending five and a half years with Spurs.
However, the current Chelsea manager has won trophies beyond these shores. He was in charge at Paris Saint-Germain for just 84 games but won three pieces of silverware with the nouveau riche French giants.
Ligue 1 (2021–22)
Critics might argue that a badly trained parakeet could win trophies at PSG but titles are titles and Pochettino guided the club to the 2021/22 Ligue 1 championship, having won the Coupe de France in 2020/21.
Trophée des Champions (2020)
In fact, just 11 days after taking over in Paris, he won the first trophy of his career as a manager as his new club beat Marseille 2-1 in the French Super Cup. That win in the 2020 Trophée des Champions came on the 13th of January after he had replaced Thomas Tuchel on the 2nd of the month.
Coupe de France (2020–21)
Later that year they landed the Coupe de France but finished second in the league, although they did make the semis of the Champions League, where they were well beaten by Man City. They won the domestic title the following campaign, the biggest success for Poch to date, but disappointment in Europe meant that he was effectively sacked in July 2022.
Has He Been a Successful Manager?
The reality of sporting competition is that there are always more “losers” than winners. Only one team, one group of players, one manager, can win a league or cup but that does not mean that all the rest have truly lost or failed. Both Espanyol and Southampton have, in their history, won things but realistically the current Chelsea boss had very little chance of landing silverware in either post.
In Spain he left his former club with a win percentage of almost 33%, having taken charge when they were mired in the bottom three of La Liga. In his first season, taking over in January, he guided them to mid-table finish and, to the delight of the fans, his side won the Barcelona derby, beating their more illustrious rivals in La Liga at the Nou Camp for the first time in 27 years. The next season Espanyol also overachieved but subsequent financial limitations meant they struggled and in November 2012 he left the club by mutual consent as they propped up the table.
Even so, he had enhanced his reputation enough to persuade Southampton to employ him. This was a bold, controversial selection because Saints dismissed Nigel Adkins, who had won the club consecutive promotions, in order to install Poch, a man who didn’t speak much English and had no experience of the game here. It proved an inspired appointment.
The Argentine guided the Saints up the Premier League to safety. The following campaign, his first full season in charge, he led them to eighth, with their highest-ever points tally in the PL. That attracted Spurs’ attention though, and he left the south coast with a win percentage of over 38% – very respectable for a club of Southampton’s stature.
Spurs: Near and Yet so Far
Poch managed Spurs for almost 300 games and guided them to the final of the League Cup in 2015 and the Champions League in 2019. They lost to Chelsea and Liverpool respectively and had those results gone differently, Pochettino’s reputation would, we feel, be very different.
Life is not about “ifs” and “buts” though, but the boss also brought Spurs fans huge joy through the exciting football they played, the huge highs they enjoyed and the young players he helped develop. During his time at the club they finished fifth, third, second and fourth, always in the mix for the Champions League places and occasionally looking like serious title contenders. Given the greater spending power of many clubs in England, that was some achievement, and Poch enjoyed a 54.27% winning percentage in north London.
His critics will say that going close is one thing but getting over the line is another, and that trophies won at PSG in an uncompetitive league count for little. But the fact remains that Mauricio Pochettino has won some silverware and with a little more luck could have won more. If Chelsea give him the chance, he can rebuild the club and bring yet more glory to Stamford Bridge. What’s more, that might just begin with the League Cup!