PSG hires Galtier as new coach after sacking Pochettino

FILE - PSG's head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures during the League One soccer match between Angers and Paris Saint Germain, at the Raymond-Kopa stadium in Angers, western France, Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez, File)

PARIS (AP) — Christophe Galtier became Paris Saint-Germain’s seventh coach in 11 years of Qatari-backed ownership after Mauricio Pochettino was fired on Tuesday.

PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi presented Galtier to media at a news conference and said, “We have a new era to start, a new atmosphere, new objectives.”

Galtier said he felt “emotional” and “proud” to take charge on a two-year contract.

“We have to work in the right way to make people happy,” Galtier said. “I am prepared. If I accepted this job and this responsibility, it’s because I’m capable of it.”

PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi, right, and Christophe Galtier attend a press conference at the Parc des Princes stadium, Tuesday, July 5, 2022 in Paris. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Galtier stated there will be no favors for star players long perceived as overly indulged at PSG.

“Commitment, respect, and the team above all. If, unfortunately, players step away from that then they will be left out,” Galtier said. “Not one player will be above what a squad should be. I am a very demanding coach.”

Galtier urged for a smaller squad but wants the injury-prone Neymar in it. PSG also boasts Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.

“You have to find a balance in the side, but I have a very precise idea about what I’m expecting from Neymar. Of course I want him to stay. It’s better to have world-class players with you.”

Long seen as too close to star players, al-Khelaifi also demanded an improved mentality.

“No one is above the club,” he said. “If a player doesn’t want to respect the rules in place then he has no place here.”

Al-Khelaifi said former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was not approached.

“We never spoke to Zidane,” he said. “Christophe was our No. 1 option from the beginning.”

Pochettino had one year left on his contract. He followed Thomas Tuchel, Unai Emery and Laurent Blanc in being fired by PSG since 2016.

Pochettino won the French league but ultimately paid the price for the club’s humiliating exit from the Champions League to Real Madrid in the round of 16. PSG led 2-0 on aggregate and conceded three goals inside 20 minutes.

Galtier led Lille to the French title in 2021 and joined Nice last season, finishing fifth but knocking PSG out of the French Cup. Nice drew with and beat PSG in the league last season. Nice did not concede a goal and Galtier’s astute tactical sense stood out.

When he guided Lille to the 2021 title, his side drew at home with PSG and won away, again without conceding a goal. Galtier figured out how to shut out PSG’s attacking armada of Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Messi.

The 55-year-old Galtier played for Marseille, where he was born, during two spells as a journeyman defender. His career ended in 1998 amid the obscurity of Italian club Monza.

He improved Saint-Etienne’s fortunes when he coached there, winning the League Cup in 2013 — the year he was voted the French league’s best coach along with PSG’s Carlo Ancelotti.

Since cash-rich Qatari investors QSI took over in June 2011, Ancelotti is the only coach not to be fired, leaving for Real Madrid in 2013. But Ancelotti was hired only after Antoine Kombouare was astonishingly axed in December 2011 when PSG was three points clear at the top.


Former PSG defender Pochettino took charge in January 2021, after Tuchel was fired.

After reaching the semifinals of the Champions League in 2021, PSG lost the French league to Galtier’s Lille. Oddly, perhaps, Pochettino’s contract was extended by one year to 2023.

Even though PSG reclaimed the French title last season there were alarmingly poor performances along the way, and Mbappe’s outstanding form papered over glaring cracks. These weaknesses were ruthlessly exposed by Madrid in the Champions League.

PSG’s lack of composure under pressure has been a familiar flaw, and Pochettino did not fix it.

In 2017, PSG was beaten 6-1 by Barcelona after winning 4-0 at home, and two years later injury-hit Manchester United won 3-1 in Paris in injury time.


Like Pochettino, Blanc signed a new contract before he was shown the door, exposing PSG’s impatience and an apparent indifference to massive compensation packages.

Pochettino and his staff reportedly received around 10 million euros ($10.6 million).

The negotiations with Pochettino dragged on but it had been expected for weeks that he would be replaced.

The collapse against Madrid prompted PSG’s first introspective overhaul under QSI’s stewardship. Sporting director Leonardo made way for renowned talent scout Luis Campos, and several former standout PSG players will act as consultants.

Galtier worked with Campos when they were at Lille from 2017-20 and said he played a role in bringing him to a club that is finally trying to shed its glossy image. PSG’s curated slogan of “Dream Bigger” and brazen boasts of future glory were at alarming odds with repeated Champions League failures.

“We must stop saying ,‘We’re going to win this and we’re going to win that,’” al-Khelaifi previously told Le Parisien newspaper.

So living in the future is finally over?

“Dreaming is one thing, reality is another. Perhaps we should change our slogan ‘Dream Bigger,’” al-Khelaifi said. “We must ask ourselves how to improve.”