Forget the lack of trophies, Mauricio Pochettino is a must for Manchester United 3 years ago

Forget the lack of trophies, Mauricio Pochettino is a must for Manchester United

Mauricio Pochettino said all the right things in his press conference on Tuesday.

Facing the media hours after Jose Mourinho's dismissal from Manchester United had been confirmed, he politely wished the Portuguese well before hastily insisting he was thinking only of Tottenham's congested run of fixtures over the Christmas period. Afterwards, he answered questions on the first of those games - the Carabao Cup meeting with Arsenal - and exited the room.


That was it. Job done.

For now, Pochettino probably is thinking only of Tottenham. Whether that is still the same in the months ahead remains to be seen.

United will replace Mourinho with a caretaker boss - likely to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - for the remainder of the season, before appointing a permanent manager in the summer. Until they do, it's safe to assume that Pochettino - the obvious candidate for the role despite his hefty break clause - can expect to field plenty more questions about the managerial vacancy at Old Trafford.


In hindsight, Mourinho was a quick fix for a club desperate to cling on to its status as Champions League regulars and Premier League contenders. He was a break-glass-in-emergency reaction to Pep Guardiola going to Manchester City, with a reputation still intact enough to pull in a couple of high-profile signings along the way.

History warned United that this ending was a possibility and, in assessing the expensively assembled wreckage he leaves behind, it's to be hoped from the club's perspective that it acts as a catalyst for a much-needed fresh approach. A move for Pochettino would indicate that lessons have been learned.

In terms of securing Champions League qualification, he meets the requirements. After a fifth-place finish in his first season at Spurs, he has guided the North London side to a spot in the Premier League's top three in each of the last three campaigns - a feat made all the more impressive given the club's relatively meagre wage budget and the team's secondment to Wembley.

Importantly, for those that bemoan United's abandonment of the all-out attacking play they were once famed for under Sir Alex Ferguson, his Tottenham sides have secured high league finishes by playing on the front foot.


While Pochettino has assembled a team that plays attractive football - and could be termed as greater than the sum of its parts - he has also improved his squad as individuals. Obviously, there are some exceptions, but most of his players - be it those he inherited or those he has signed - are better now than when they first started playing for him.


Another plus point is that Pochettino has made Spurs one of the Premier League's top teams without being able to spend the kind of money available to their rivals. While this in itself might appeal to United's owners, the fact that he has compensated by integrating talented youngsters into the first team would also be welcomed at Old Trafford, particularly given the rise of the likes of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes in the club's youth setup.

There are plenty of reasons why this move will not happen. Spurs are undeniably a stronger team than the side Pochettino would inherit at Old Trafford, and the idea of a rebuilding job at United may be less appealing than leading Tottenham into a bold new era at the club's soon-to-be-finished stadium.


United, too, may opt against making him an offer. For all the sense in targeting Pochettino, he is yet to win a major trophy in management - something regularly pointed out by his detractors.

This clearly shouldn't matter. Mourinho, as with Louis van Gaal before him, arrived at United as a former European Cup winner who conquered leagues in every country he managed. It was no guarantee for the success that is craved and expected at Old Trafford, with United lurching from one crisis to the next in the post-Ferguson years.

The current squad are a long way from challenging for the biggest prizes, urgently in need of a discernible, long-term plan. As he has proven at Spurs, Pochettino is the man to deliver it.