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With the options available to him, why would Pochettino go to Man Utd?


With the options available to him, why would Pochettino go to Man Utd?

Poch has earned the right to walk into a top team - United are a long way from being that.

LOUIS Van Gaal knows what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going through right now. He knows what it’s like to be the manager of Manchester United while the presence of another manager, a potential replacement, looms. From the moment Jose Mourinho was sacked as Chelsea boss back in December 2015 it seemed inevitable that he would take over at Old Trafford. Many are now saying the same of Mauricio Pochettino following his dismissal at Tottenham last week.

United’s interest in Pochettino is well-documented. By all accounts, they wanted the Argentine to be Mourinho’s long term successor before Solskjaer’s astonishing winning streak following his interim appointment convinced them to hire the Norwegian permanently. Of course, Solskjaer has since done little to vindicate that decision and with Pochettino now available the pressure will intensify.

But why would Pochettino even want the Man Utd job? Now untethered, the 47-year-old is European football’s most sought after coach. His suitors won’t be put off my the daunting prospect of having to deal with Daniel Levy, as was the case before the Argentine’s sacking, and so he will likely have the pick of the sport’s biggest and most attractive positions.

Bayern Munich, to give one example, are currently searching for a new manager after the sacking of Niko Kovac just a few weeks ago. The Bavarians are reportedly big fans of Pochettino and were plotting a move for him even before the events of last week. Why would he choose Man Utd over everything Bayern Munich can offer him?

While Bayern Munich have struggled over the early part of the season, they still boast one of the most talented squads in Europe. At the Allianz Arena, Pochettino would get the chance to work with Robert Lewandowski, a Bundesliga legend who has scored in every game besides one he has played this season, as well as Serge Gnabry, Philippe Coutinho, Thiago Alcantara and Joshua Kimmich among others.

What’s more, Bayern Munich are one of the few clubs capable of going all the way in the Champions League. They are also a club generally aligned with the principles of Pochettino as a coach and their status in German football means the Argentine would almost certainly break his trophy duck there too.

Even if a move to Bavaria doesn’t appeal, both Barcelona and Real Madrid jobs may soon be on the radar. Ernesto Valverde has reached the end of his cycle at the Camp Nou and might not even make it to the end of the season if Barca’s patchy form continues for much longer. Could Pochettino, as an Argentine, really pass up the opportunity to work with Lionel Messi?

Of course, Pochettino’s past allegiance to Espanyol could potentially complicate such a move, although players and coaches have passed between the two clubs before. There would be no such issue with a move to Real Madrid, though, with club president Florentino Perez believed to be close to obsessed with the idea of luring Pochettino to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The political situation at Real Madrid makes the manager’s position one of the toughest in football, but this is a club that has won the Champions League title four times in the past six years. Their squad still sparkles and Perez would give Pochettino the sort of transfer market budget he always wanted at Spurs. 

Pochettino must plot his next move carefully. His stock will likely never be as high as it is right now because the Argentine remains unfulfilled as one of the best coaches of his generation. His ceiling is unknown because Tottenham never gave him the chance to reach the peak of his powers. What could he possibly see in Man Utd, taking into account all that has been witnessed in recent years, that would convince him they would give him that? Old Trafford is not the right place for Pochettino.

 

 

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Graham Ruthven
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