Pochettino’s Sacking is a Concern For Man Utd Boss Solskjaer
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The managerial activity in North London this week might have an impact further up the M1 and how Manchester United behave between now and the end of the Premier League season.
After weeks of speculation and a disastrous run of form, Daniel Levy swung the axe at Tottenham Hotspur and Mauricio Pochettino’s five-and-a-half years in charge came to an end.
As we know, Levy isn’t one to mess around, and no sooner had Pochettino’s departure been announced, word spread that former United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho would take over of his third club in English soccer, and return to the Premier League in what he described as his “natural habitat”.
When Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea in 2015, it was his shadow that cast over Louis van Gaal’s final few months at Manchester United, and from that point until May the following year, it was always going to be a case of “when” and not “if” he’d replace the Dutchman in charge at Old Trafford.
That 2015/16 season, United just missed out on a place in the Champions League and won the FA Cup, but that still wasn’t enough to save van Gaal, and the longer Pochettino goes without getting a job, the more uncomfortable it might get for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United, especially if results take another dip.
Latest Managerial Odds
At the moment, some UK sportsbooks have Pochettino as short as +250 to be Manchester United’s next manager, though Betfair have him as long +600, siding with former Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri as their +450 favourite.
Reports suggest Bayern Munich have ear-marked Pochettino as their next boss, causing 888sport to cut the Bundesliga champions in to -200 to be the Argentine’s next club, with United out at +300.
The word from the club is that they’re still firmly behind Solskjaer, and that he’s the man to see through the longer term vision and plan. As such, he’s only third favourite (+400) to be the next EPL manager sacked after Arsenal’s Unai Emery (+150) and Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl (+200).
The Norwegian has already submitted a list of targets to the recruitment team for January (if a deal can be done), and next summer, but that will be further complicated by the Euro 2020 tournament and a financial debt that has risen at the club.
I think Solskjaer is ok for now, but things can change very quickly. Mourinho's shadow hovered over van Gaal and the same could happen with Poch/Solskjaer if form doesn't improve. Solskjaer's in the middle of a "good' run but club sit in seventh in PL. #MUFC— Tom McDermott (@MrTomMcDermott) November 21, 2019
On the pitch, Solskjaer’s team have turned a corner, losing only once in their last six matches in all competitions, winning five. The injury list is also getting shorter with Paul Pogba likely to join Eric Bailly back with the first team squad over the next ten days.
They’ll need the French World Cup winner fully concentrated and back to his best for the winter period, especially if Scott McTominay, one of the campaigns few bright sparks, is forced to miss a chunk of the next month’s fixtures with an ankle injury.
McTominay, alongside summer acquisitions Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Dan James and Harry Maguire have all been great successes for Solskjaer, and the hope is that they can provide a base in which he can build upon over the next 18 months.
Why Go For Poch Now?
But with things seemingly looking up at the red half of Manchester, why should Solskjaer be so concerned?
Pochettino brings a calm persona to the training ground and insists on an attacking style of play, something United fans haven’t always seen this season.
The former Espanyol manager has also been complimented by Southampton and Tottenham staff for how he’s developed and nurtured a culture behind the scenes, and former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is also known to be a huge fan.
The way he guided Spurs to the Champions League final and in particular their wins against Manchester City and Ajax along the way, showed that he is capable tactically in the biggest games, whereas previously there had been doubts.
What any “big” club will demand if Pochettino takes over though is trophies, something he’s failed to deliver. For whatever reason, despite the many positives, he’s failed to win one, which is something supporters of his next club will demand if, as is expected, he takes on one of the elite jobs in European soccer.
The best way for Solskjaer to banish any talk of Pochettino taking over in the summer or before, is to continue winning matches, and the recent positive run must continue in South Yorkshire against Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United on Sunday.
Wilder’s reputation has continued to grow this season and he’s guided his team to fifth place in the Premier League, two places above United, and already has a home victory against Arsenal this season to his name.
The Blades also go into the match unbeaten in their last five outings and if that’s extended to six at the weekend, a certain unemployed Argentine manager might start to become more than an interested spectator.
About the Author
Tom McDermott is an author, journalist, consultant and member of the Football Writers' Association. He has contributed to an array of publications, including Sky Sports, Sporting Life and FourFourTwo, while also being the creator of Manchester United fansite and podcast The United End.