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Why Man United named Pochettino as Solskjaer’s successor
M

auricio Pochettino is the perfect candidate for the Manchester United managerial post, or so the club have decided.

But what’s worth waiting for at Pochettino? A quick glance at his trophy cabinet only reveals a Coupe de France and a Champions Trophy – an honor he hasn’t even been able to defend with his all-star PSG squad this season.

Perhaps that is the point. The scholarly view in football has been for some time that Pochettino is capable of leading a team that can dominate a league – he just hasn’t had the chance.

While PSG missed the Ligue 1 title race in Lille last year – the ex-defender joined a point ahead in January, the same margin they finished with – this time around will be different . An 11-point lead after just 14 games played is unassailable for a team that includes Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Pochettino will finally have won a league crown by the summer and could add the Champions League, with enough time to rest his stars from national duty in the spring. If he makes the double – or the treble with the very plausible Coupe de France in mind – there will be no argument: he will be a full member of the elite of football.

Why wouldn’t United want such a manager? The argument, as the club can see, only grows stronger when you consider how he got there. In vouching for the Champions League issue, it is true that simply by winning the Ligue 1 title, Pochettino would have benefited from a much superior squad full of star players.

But United won’t care. They signed Cristiano Ronaldo for their latest manager specifically to do just that. Getting the most out of these superstars is a skill in itself and if the Argentine can demonstrate it, it is a big plus on Solskjaer for beginners.

Another big factor for the Red Devils is youth and again Pochettino has a reasonable history in this regard, with people like Eric Ebimbe and Nathan Bitumazala, 18, gradually pushing the Parisian pecking order.

This leads to the humanity that the former Tottenham and Southampton manager has in abundance, which this united hierarchy is now looking for. Solskjaer was a club legend yes, but also a nice guy. The sharpest characters now seem to turn off Ed Woodward and Co as they seek out the most dignified and marked personal touch by Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal.

POOL / AFP via Getty Images

It is entirely plausible that United, more than, say, Chelsea, look at Pochettino’s tears for guiding Spurs to a Champions League final and think: “We will have a part of it”. With Pochettino comes ambition but also dignity, a club ambassador who can be the face of a massive global business one evening and greet the locals at a fan forum the next.

As for tactics, needs must. As a manager, he demands energy and tenacity but is not attached to a single style like his fellow candidate Brendan Rodgers. Again, this suits United as the club pride themselves on winning games – not in a particular way.

If Pochettino wants to leave PSG, where Mbappe’s potential summer exit and disagreements over next leg would be major issues, it’s no wonder United want to be first in the queue. Whether a notoriously haphazard club is better at persuading them to join may be a whole other matter altogether.


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