Pochettino has been talked up for the United job in the past – here’s why he’d be ideal.
Mauricio Pochettino will be rocking up at Old Trafford with Tottenham this weekend looking to gain a big advantage over Manchester United in this season’s title race – but could it also serve as an important audition for the Argentine?
Jose Mourinho has been surprisingly linked with a departure from United little more than a year and a half after taking the job, with the Sun recently reporting that Paris Saint-Germain were confident of snapping him up in the near future.
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This followed the Portuguese talking up football in the city of Paris in an interview with French TV channel Telefoot, as quoted on Get Football News France.
Pochettino, meanwhile, may well have bigger ambitions on his agenda before too long after taking Tottenham to new levels in his three years in charge. Spurs are a changed team under his management, with Roy Keane recently admitting they’re a million miles away from the side they were when Sir Alex Ferguson famously told his players: ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham.’
‘Them days are over,’ Keane was quoted on HITC. ‘I think Spurs now look rock solid, a really good team full of energy. We saw the game against Real Madrid, they were very brave, showed a lot of courage, looked like they belong with all the top teams in Europe now.
‘I think their manager and players deserve great credit – this is a really good Tottenham team now.’
Could the United job be next for Pochettino if Mourinho does end up moving on in the next year or two? We’re convinced it’s a match made in heaven and here’s five reasons why…
He gets the best out of young players
Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier – Pochettino has been committed to blooding top young players during his time in north London and its paid dividends.
They haven’t all been ‘Class of 92’-style academy products, with Dier and Alli expertly poached on the cheap from other clubs, but the point remains that Pochettino shares these important United values of bringing through a core of young players together and watching them shine.
Premier League net spend since 2014:
Man City £448.7m
Man Utd £424.7m
Tottenham £20.5m pic.twitter.com/55qCSpAyDz
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) October 23, 2017
Some have criticised the former Southampton boss for failing to strengthen enough in the transfer market in recent years, but his decision to stick with this same group of players has created a strong sense of team spirit at the club – and Spurs will hope this group can stay together for a long time.
His Tottenham side are solid and resolute
Best defence in the league last season, joint-best the previous season – it’s clear Pochettino knows what he’s doing in terms of drilling his back four.
Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have played a big part in that solidity at the back, but in truth Tottenham look just as tough to break down when Pochettino changes things around, with Dier, Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies all filling in well for first-choice players to great effect whenever called upon.
They say great attacks win you games and great defences win you titles, and that’s certainly true of United at their peak, who were able to grind out narrow wins even when not at their best due to having the likes of Jaap Stam, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic keeping things tight at the back for all those years.
And they play good football too
Important for a United manager – Pochettino looks like he could bring entertainment back to Old Trafford in a way that Mourinho has arguably been unable to do.
Contrast the ruthless, fast and ambitious approach by Tottenham against Liverpool in their 4-1 win last week to United’s negative bus-parking display against the same team at Anfield the week before.
With attacking players like Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen in his ranks, Pochettino has been blessed with some great talent to choose from, but he’s even had Moussa Sissoko looking like a half-decent player recently – not an achievement to be sniffed at.
He relishes the big games
Once a pushover in the big games, Tottenham are improving all the time in fixtures against the rest of the big six.
Last season, they won four and drew one against the rest of the top six, beating Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and champions Chelsea – and each time fairly convincingly.
This term, they’ve already thrashed Liverpool, eased past Borussia Dortmund and drawn away to Real Madrid in the Champions League. Given the greater resources on offer at United, imagine just how much of a force to reckon with he would be there.
He’s had ringing endorsements from United legends
‘I love Tottenham, they’re probably my favourite team in the league to watch. Pochettino has built a team, brought players through and the budget is nowhere near the other clubs. For me he’s doing an amazing job,’ – so said Gary Neville to Sky Sports at the end of last season.
His brother Phil is also a big fan, and was quoted by the Daily Mail in April as saying: ‘I absolutely love him (Pochettino), they are the best coached team in the league.’
Most importantly of all? The one and only Alex Ferguson himself has apparently expressed the view that Pochettino is the best manager in the Premier League.
Speaking on The Spurs Show last year, Tottenham MP David Lammy said: ‘I’m going to let you into a secret. About six weeks ago, I sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson at a dinner in support of grassroots football abroad. He said to me, “I think you guys have got the best manager in the Premier League”. Alex Ferguson said that.’
The Daily Mail claim Ferguson and Pochettino met for lunch around the time when replacing Louis van Gaal was on the agenda, and the Scot and other figures at the club were said to agree that the Spurs boss could be ideal, even if it never materialised.
Still, it is surely only a matter of time…