Should Manchester United appoint Mauricio Pochettino?
By Joe Harker
Once upon a time Mauricio Pochettino was the most coveted manager in football and Tottenham Hotspur had no intention of letting the jewel in their crown go anywhere.
Now he's been sacked by Spurs and replaced with Jose Mourinho, putting Pochettino back on the market. That should alert some of Europe's biggest clubs to an opportunity for his signature.
One such club is Manchester United, whose interest is longstanding. Is now the time to appoint the manager they once thought to be a perfect fit?
Apparently not, as the club is reportedly happy to keep going with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because they see him as part of the long term plans they are trying to implement.
After thrashing around for years trying to find a plan that worked for them United now believe they're on the right track with a good long term plan, they see Solskjaer as part of that plan even if the early days haven't been so good.
If United has a long term plan they feel like sticking to and consider the manager to be a key part of their strategy then they shouldn't go for Pochettino. He was the future once, but if the club has chosen a different path then dropping their plans to pursue him is a bad idea.
When discussing the problems at Manchester United it's important to note that there are several factors contributing to years of underachievement and hundreds of millions wasted.
Solskjaer hasn't done very well since being appointed permanently, but the squad he has to work with is threadbare for a team aiming to qualify for the Champions League. To properly judge a manager they should be given the tools to succeed, Solskjaer simply hasn't been given that.
If United want to really commit to their long term plan they ought to focus on improving the squad and learning from their mistakes over the horrendous way they've been run over the past few seasons.
Besides, appointing Pochettino does nothing to alleviate the deficiencies in the squad. A new manager doesn't mean a crop of much needed arrivals will suddenly spring up from the ground.
The Counter Claim:
The simple fact is that United wanted Pochettino to be their manager and now they've got the chance to appoint him.
He got Spurs playing a fantastic brand of football, overhauled them into a consistently excellent side and was very good at developing younger talent. That ticks all the boxes at Old Trafford.
What's more, he did all of that on a very tight budget. United can offer him more money to play with than Spurs could, potentially meaning they could get even more out of Pochettino.
The Argentine is a proven top class manager just waiting for that move to a club where he can start picking up silverware. United have a chance to appoint him now, if they don't move quickly that chance could be gone.
While Solskjaer hasn't exactly been given the squad he needs and his replacement would also have a squad with the same deficiencies the chances of another manager getting more out of what United currently have shouldn't be discounted.
Pochettino seems to be exactly what United want in a manager, shouldn't it be a no-brainer for them to approach him?
The Independent reports Pochettino is aiming to enjoy a little bit of a break from management and won't be rushed back into a new job.
If he intends to hang on until the summer he could have his pick of major clubs, with United facing competition from Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for the manager's signature.
Bayern have a temporary manager in place and would probably like to appoint someone of Pochettino's profile before they go into the next season, though they would likely prefer someone who speaks more German.
Real Madrid wanted Pochettino last year and Zinedine Zidane's return hasn't been as triumphant as his previous stint at the club. That's another job that could become available in time.
United's original plan when appointing Solskjaer was for him to take charge on a temporary basis before an attempt to appoint Pochettino was made at the end of the season, but the Norwegian earned a permanent contract after winning 14 of his first 19 games.
Since then the team's form has been much worse and Solskjaer has the same number of points (57) after 34 Premier League games as David Moyes did before being sacked.
Last season Jose Mourinho was sacked after picking up on average 1.52 points per game, this season United are picking up on average 1.3 points per game.
Solskjaer's United of this season are in manager sacking form and the club is on course to pick up just 50 points, which would be their worst ever domestic season. Something needs to change, whether it be the manager or the squad he has available. Honestly, it's both but changing the manager is easier right now.