Pochettino to United has had speculation akin to the infamous Gaitan and Sneijder rumours which consumed us all for several transfer windows. These rumours largely originated from years back, when Pochettino and his right-hand man Jesus Perez were spotted leaving a restaurant with Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex had clearly been impressed with his methods when the Argentinian former defender brought his Southampton side to the away dugout at Old Trafford back in Fergie’s last season at the helm. It was clear from day one how Pochettino wanted his sides to play, and this has not changed hugely at Spurs either. A clear philosophy of high pressing football, where the main wide outlet came from arguably some of the most advanced fullback positional play seen in the Premier League to that point.
Furthermore, he showed clear intentions from the get go to ensure the youth at the club were developed adequately. Luke Shaw, a player who was first brought through by his predecessor Nigel Adkins, was joined by a young Calum Chambers. It could be argued the former Espanyol coach’s development of the former ultimately lead to his move to United just a few months later. Given youth development was always crucial to Fergie’s methods, it is clear why he considered Pochettino as someone to admire.
These links continued when Jose was sacked in December 2018, with many believing the interim appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was to ensure that they could get their man finally in the summer that followed. All that was put to bed in March when Ole was appointed permanently, after a remarkable unbeaten run following his Christmas appointment, not forgetting the iconic victory in Paris. Poch’s stock was never higher than when he was mooted to us this time though. He had proved to be able to keep Tottenham near the top of the league for multiple years, despite minimal investment. However, it was pretty crazy on many levels how Poch’s league record since Ole’s permanent have largely mirrored each other. They have both come under considerable pressure in recent weeks, so why do I believe the stars may be aligning for Pochettino to finally make the jump to Old Trafford in light of this?
Firstly, I believe despite the repeated votes of confidence seen in the media over recent weeks, Ole’s grip on his role is on very thin ice. We look in severe relegation form right now. We have a toothless attack, admittedly without Martial for some time, but it is hard to see where our goals are coming from. Scott McTominay is up there with our top goalscorers since Ole’s appointment. It is also relying on the creative spark of a recent Championship winger, who admittedly has been our best attacking player this season. It is a real concern that usually what happens with sides that cannot score, is that they slip into a relegation battle.
Moreover, it is hard to see how the Glazers will be able to remain patient if this slippery slope is allowed to continue much more. It is a real shame as I truly believe Ole, Phelan, Carrick and McKenna have the right intentions with making us great again. But there is no conviction in having a plan that can’t unfold into success due to poor execution. This is why I see the Norwegian legend sadly bidding farewell to Old Trafford before the turn of the year at the latest.
It could be fairly argued that due to Pochettino being on a remarkably similar run to his Norwegian colleague, it seems a bit of a jump to suggest he should even be considered by Ed and the Glazers as a suitable man to invest time into. This is a very reasonable argument and it is admittedly a concern for me too.
However, I believe Poch’s Spurs side reached their ceiling when they made the final of the Champions League in May. It was a crazy achievement to accomplish for a side who had not brought anyone in the two windows that preceded it. It was against all odds and form, as alluded to earlier in my form comparison with Ole’s permanent record since March. It was an outlier in what I believe was an inevitable conclusion to Poch’s fruitful time with the North London side. Like with Ole, I see Pochettino being relieved of his duties in the very near future.
However, the parallels between the situation that Ole and Pochettino currently find themselves entrenched in end there in my view. I believe the track record that Pochettino has established in both of his roles at Southampton and Tottenham has been more pronounced than Ole has ever achieved. I believe he is well clear in terms of youth development, tactical philosophy and ability to work on a small, finite budget. This track record almost checks all the boxes of what we would consider a perfect Manchester United manager ideologically, at least.
Therefore, I believe that when Poch inevitably leaves Spurs in the coming weeks, Ed will finally make a concrete move for the Argentinian and dispense of the services of Ole for the reasons discussed above. This would not come without fair criticism. Many are concerned that Poch’s slump may continue if he moved to Old Trafford, and maybe further to my view that his Spurs side have peaked, he may have peaked as a manager himself.
Also, many have scepticism over his ability to win trophies while at the helm of a side who are built on success. These factors show Poch’s potential appointment as a risk, but it is also true that no appointment comes without drawbacks, and I believe the positives I have outlined make this a risk that is worth taking.