Manchester United and Mauricio Pochettino: A match made in heaven?
Image courtesy of Chris Brunskill/Fantasista

Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was relieved of his duties at Old Trafford on Sunday morning after a string of poor results, with Manchester United naming Michael Carrick as the caretaker coach whilst the club seek a new permanent manager.

Nobody is certain who is to become Solskjaer's successor, but many names have been circulating in recent times as United prepare for life without the Norwegian.

Today we take a look at the current Paris Saint Germain manager and former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino, and discuss whether or not the Argentinian could be a success should he take over the helm at Old Trafford.

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There are reasons to suggest that Pochettino and United could be a match made in heaven, but as is the case with any manager and club, the grass might not necessarily be greener on the other side.

  • An exciting brand of football

One of the biggest demands by fans at Old Trafford is for their side to play an exciting brand of football filled with attacking intent.

When The Red Devils were under the management of Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, grumbles could be heard around The Theatre of Dreams and there were constant complaints about the slow, pragmatic approach being implemented.

Solskjaer did try to bring back an attacking style of play during his tenure, but his United side were much more effective playing counter-attacking football as opposed to dominating the ball in an exciting manner.

Pochettino, however, has demonstrated on a consistent basis throughout his career that his sides are able to play expansive, attractive football that is enjoyable to watch.

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Most fans will remember Pochettino for his five year tenure at Tottenham, and perhaps rightly so, as he turned Spurs into one of the most exciting Premier League teams to watch in recent years.

But more impressively, through a relentless high press and fast paced attacking football, he also transformed Southampton – a side who were battling relegation before he was appointed – into a side that finished eighth.

If Pochettino could turn The Saints into a top eight side and  transform Tottenham into Champions League finalists through an attacking brand of football, the prospect of what he could do with this current crop of United stars is frightening.

  • Trust in youth and net-spend

Another factor that excites the Old Trafford faithful is seeing academy graduates being granted their debuts and becoming first team regulars – a tradition that Pochettino himself is no stranger to.

During his time at Southampton and Spurs, the Argentinian injected huge amounts of trust into young players who had come through the ranks at their respected clubs.

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Gambling on the youth set-up paid dividends at both clubs, with hungry environments being created for first-team places, ultimately contributing to the sides' success.

The most notable player who benefitted from Pochettino's trust in youth is Harry Kane.

The Tottenham and England striker was given a long run in the first team for the first time under Pochettino, and has since gone on to score 167 goals for his club and a further 48 for his country.

Furthermore, the 49-year-old produced 12 England debutants during his time in the Premier League, and this is a trait that would mirror the expectations of Manchester United's traditions if he were to become the United manager.

Whilst promoting youth players, Pochettino was working under a minimal net spend at Tottenham.

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Daniel Levy's sell-to-buy policy didn't hinder the Argentinian's success at the club, which allowed the then-Spurs manager to prove that he could generate a dominant force despite having limited funds at his disposal.

So if Pochettino was to become the United boss and was unable to make January signings due to the heavy backing Solskjaer received in the summer, he has already proven that he is successful in working under these conditions.

  • A lack of silverware

Despite all of Pochettino's success at Southampton and Tottenham, one curveball that was always thrown at him was his inability to get over the finish line.

Spurs were in a seemingly two-horse race with Leicester City  for the Premier League title in the 2015/16 campaign, yet still managed to finish third behind fierce rivals Arsenal.

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Moreover, although Pochettino reached the Champions League final with Tottenham – which was a remarkable achievement in itself – the Argentinian came under massive scrutiny for how he set up his side and then went on to lose in the final against Liverpool.

And Manchester United fans will be concerned that, with their club failing to win a major honour since 2017, Pochettino may well be another manager who would struggle to bring silverware to Old Trafford.

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This is perhaps a harsh criticism as the 49-year-old was working with a limited budget and was managing a side that wasn't expected to win trophies in the first place.

But there is no avoiding the fact that failing to win major honours at Old Trafford, no matter who the manager, would be deemed as a massive failure.

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