Friday 20 September 2019

Jamie Carragher: 'Move to Old Trafford offers Pochettino a perfect chance to win big trophies'

 

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Reuters
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Reuters

Jamie Carragher

If Mauricio Pochettino is offered the Manchester United job, he has to take it. That is a hard for Tottenham Hotspur supporters to accept but, sadly for them, it is inevitable that they are prey to a more powerful Premier League rival.

Hearing some arguments against Pochettino moving to Manchester United, I cannot help but think a reality check is needed.

It does not matter how great Spurs' new stadium is and how many supporters fill it. It does not even matter what they win this season or over the next few years. Spurs are not Manchester United. They will never be a big as Manchester United.

There is a footballing pyramid based on finance, history, status and global following. Manchester United will always be one of those at the top.

Do not make the mistake of being distracted by what has happened at Old Trafford in the last five years. The United job will always be one of the world's most attractive.

Since Alex Ferguson stepped down, there has never been a better time to get it. It can only get better.

They are eighth in the Premier League. They lost in the League Cup to Derby County.

The fans' immediate priority is entertainment, with title and Champions League ambitions following once the next manager has built his team.

Whoever goes there and gets it right will keep the job for as long they want. It is not like Real Madrid where you can win the Champions League and get sacked, never mind go after a few bad results.

Because the last three appointments failed, there is a perception United have become like others, sacking on a whim. Nonsense. In the case of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, the United board acted reluctantly, arguably letting incompatible coaches stay too long.

The next appointment will be their fourth in five years, so some say it is a risk going to United. Since Pochettino was the fourth Tottenham manager in two years when he took over at White Hart Lane in 2014, that is not likely to faze him. Didn't Spurs sack Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas after not qualifying for the Champions League?

Unless he endures a calamitous start, the new United manager will get at least three years to rebuild at United.

Moyes took over in different circumstances, under pressure to deliver a seamless transition with a title-winning team.

Van Gaal was expected to oversee swift improvement even though, like Moyes, the squad he inherited needed reshaping.

When Mourinho was appointed, it was solely about winning trophies - which he did - but at the expense of the style of play the supporters are accustomed to.

None were the right fit; Pochettino is the perfect fit.

Now the supporters, and the club, want the traditional way of playing back. As I have written before, I believe there is a core of United players capable of instant improvement. It is not just about buying the best; it is about working with, coaching and developing those already there and giving youth a chance.

Questions like, 'Why would Pochettino leave Tottenham now?' amount to a loyalty plea. Pochettino owes Spurs nothing. He has done an unbelievable job with a fraction of United's budget.

What has taken four-and-a-half years to build at Tottenham could be achieved sooner at United with the players he would inherit, the same clever management he has demonstrated in North London and astute signings.

Only Pochettino's devotion to his current squad can keep him at Tottenham, allied to a belief he is on the verge of winning the biggest honours.

But does he truly think he is at a club prepared to go that extra mile to do so? Where everything is geared towards being the best in Europe?

The signs have been there since the summer that his team's capacities are being stretched to the absolute limit. He expressed frustration at being unable to strengthen, losing ground to a Liverpool team he has finished above in each season until now. This long-term perspective will be the chief consideration should - as we expect - United come calling.

It is naive to believe Pochettino will be content working at a club where qualifying rather than winning the Champions League is the measure of success. He does not want the comfort of knowing he is safe from the sack if he finishes in the top four. He wants to win the Premier League and Champions League.

The Argentinian knows which clubs are best equipped to do that - not just on the occasional basis, but every season. And he knows these chances do not come around often.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy realises what is coming. He has long been regarded as one of the smartest operators in English football, so will have several calculations.

Will he go to war to keep his manager? That rarely ends well. If a manager or player wants out you can retain them for a while but it happens eventually. Or is the priority maximising the financial benefits to Tottenham by letting him go?

I believe there should be transfer fees for managers as much as players. Manchester United paid £50m for Fred, so why wouldn't they pay £40m for one of the world's most sought-after managers? What is more important? My suspicion is an agreement will be reached that works for all parties this summer. If Pochettino departs at a considerable price, his successor might have more to spend than the current manager should he stay.

Despite suggesting they are about to embark on a thorough recruitment process, United are acting like they already have someone in mind - an individual they know cannot be recruited until the end of the season.

The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is the biggest hint. In Solksjaer, United have moved for an interim boss who is highly unlikely to get the job full-time. Just like as a player, he will be happy to return to the sidelines to make way for the first choice.

It is already football's worst-kept secret that United want Pochettino. It would be one of football's biggest surprises if they do not get him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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