Almost a year since his sacking as Tottenham Hotspur boss, Mauricio Pochettino is still without a job, and while watching him analyse Leicester City’s win over Leeds United as a guest pundit with Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football, one couldn’t help but ask, for how long?
Among the most talented young managers in the game, Pochettino has had his fair share of offers that he’s turned down while out of management. One offer that he will surely find difficult to, and is unlikely to turn down, though, is the Manchester United job.
Considered one of the most difficult jobs in football, England’s sleeping giants have been a shell of themselves ever since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and Pochettino – the man who helped reestablish Southampton and made Spurs a top-four regular – could be the answer to United’s woes.
As is well-documented, United’s present manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has failed to convince most fans and pundits about his credentials of being the right man to lead the club forward. Apart from his first three months in the job as interim manager, Solskjaer’s tenure at United has been synonymous with inconsistency.
Sublime on some days and ridiculous during others, Solskjaer’s side tend to go on runs of extremes. His inability to stamp a distinctive style of play on the team almost two years and 100 games into his reign, coupled with on-field inconsistency doesn’t shine him in the best of lights. The start of United’s ongoing campaign is perhaps the best example of the Norwegian’s reign.
If United are brilliant in the Champions League against top-quality opponents, they look conversely uninspired in the league, having failed to win any of their opening four matches at home – their worst Premier League start ever. The lack of a recognized playing XI and his changes in personnel during games haven’t helped him convince doubters either.
If anything, his decision to substitute playmaker Bruno Fernandes and wonderkid Mason Greenwood while chasing the game against Arsenal last weekend only strengthened his naysayers’ opinion of the Norwegian being tactically inept and in general, woefully out of his depth under the bright lights in the Old Trafford dugout.
And while he has done some good in strengthening the camaraderie in the dressing room and bringing through talented youth players from the academy, it’s become plainly obvious in recent weeks that Solskjaer isn’t the man to get the consistency out of United that’s required from a European powerhouse.
This is why United cannot let the opportunity of signing Pochettino just pass them by because it’s not every day that a manager the calibre of the Argentine is available in the market. Having improved every club that he’s been with, there’s no doubting the fact that he would improve a United squad filled with several top-quality talents.
His fondness of trusting youth is in keeping with United’s tradition and his off the ball pressing style which revolutionized the Premier League will be more than welcome at Old Trafford. That said, there are some doubters that believe that Pochettino’s not the ideal fit for the Red Devils because he’s yet to win a trophy as manager and doesn’t use wingers, which is steeped deep in United traditions.
However, that’s not to say that he can’t use wide players if the right players are made available and moreover, United’s current squad don’t exactly deploy traditional wingers in the ilk of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.
Instead, they mostly use inverted wingers that like to cut in and are blessed with a lot of depth in midfield which will suit Pochettino’s narrow formation through the centre, while allowing the full-backs to overlap.
As far as reservations concerning his ability to win a trophy go, one look at Solskjaer’s record as a manager in Europe’s best league should be enough to remind fans that the Norwegian isn’t a serial winner himself.
Simply put, Pochettino has improved every club that he’s been at in his career so far and is certain to make United more of a force than they are now under Solskjaer. However, it is important that the United board acts fast and in a decisive manner because managers of Pochettino’s class don’t stay out of a job for too long.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ian Kington