Jose Mourinho hasn’t been unemployed for a day and already news is moving at light speed for who will replace him. And if you’re a Tottenham Hotspur fan, this report is not going to make pleasant reading.
According to the Matt Hughes in the Times of London (£), not only is Manchester United targeting Mauricio Pochettino to replace Mourinho at the Theater of Dreams, but Poch is strongly considering taking the job and has put a lot of thought into it already.
Pochettino signed a new five year contract at Spurs this past summer, but according to Hughes Poch is feeling unsupported after a summer without transfer signings and is increasingly unhappy.
The Argentinian is understood to regard the opportunity of moving to Old Trafford as too good to turn down, although it would cost United £34 million in compensation to prise him from Tottenham, which would take the club’s total bill for sacking José Mourinho earlier today past £50 million.
…Despite his attachment to Tottenham and good working relationship with chairman Daniel Levy the 46-year-old is understood to have deep frustrations about the way the club his run, particularly regarding the lack of backing he has received in the transfer market, a tightly-controlled wage structure, the failure to offload players he no longer wanted last summer and delays to the opening of their new stadium.
— Matt Hughes, Times of London
The article goes on to suggest that Tottenham’s ambition might not match Pochettino’s own, and that while the club culture isn’t the same at United he would at least be free to implement his system without the financial restraints in place at Spurs. There is also the implication that Real Madrid, who also will likely be making another managerial change this summer, could make a similar approach.
Getting Pochettino wouldn’t be cheap — his contract doesn’t have a built-in exit, so United would need to buy out the rest of his contract to even get a foot in the door. In addition, Pochettino is already one of the best paid managers in the Premier League, and United (or Madrid) would need to at least match those wages going forward. However, this is Manchester United we’re talking about — money isn’t exactly an obstacle though it would be extremely unusual to spend that much on a manager.
All of this sounds really bad, and it is! Losing Pochettino might also start a player exodus of those most loyal to their manager — most notably players like Hugo Lloris, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli could be tempted away if Poch leaves.
However, the flip side of this report is that it might be an extreme way to force chairman Daniel Levy’s hand in the short to medium term. If the main issue behind Poch’s dissatisfaction is one of financial backing, purchasing a few players in the January window and promising, for real and sure this time pinky swear no takebacks, that Poch will have the ability to improve the club (and sell unwanted players) could be enough to convince him to stay. Winning something and getting into the new stadium in February might also help.
So, there are at least two possibilities. One — Pochettino is playing hardball and angling for new signings. Two — the sourcing is true and he really does want this United job. Despite the lack of quotes in the Times article, Matt Hughes is a good journalist who is well-sourced within the Spurs organization, and it seems clear that there’s something going on here.
We won’t know for a while, but excuse me while I reach for the bottle of antacid.