Growing friction between Mauricio Pochettino and Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo could open the door for Manchester United to take over the former Tottenham manager.
Pochettino is believed to be ready to leave PSG for Old Trafford amid mounting tensions in the French capital, should the Manchester giants settle for the Argentine as their preferred choice to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United have been busy drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates to temporarily and permanently replace Solskjaer and the prospect of a return to the Premier League and England, where his family live, appeals to Pochettino.
It is believed PSG have no plans to move Pochettino, nor have he told them he wants to leave, but there is an uneasy relationship with Leonardo and that could play into United’s hunt for a family tree manager.
PSG will try to determine Pochettino’s intentions in the coming days, but not before PSG’s Champions League clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night. The fact that he lives in a hotel in Paris while his family is in London has not helped him settle in France, although sources close to him have downplayed this, suggesting the bigger problem is how the club operates.
Despite PSG being 11 points clear of the top of Ligue 1, the owners’ priority is to win the Champions League and the pressure to deliver that trophy only increased last summer with the arrival of Lionel Messi from Barcelona .
Michael Carrick has been appointed temporarily after Solskjaer’s sacking and will oversee his first game in Spain on Tuesday night when United face Villarreal in the Champions League, knowing the win would guarantee their place in the knockout rounds and some short cuts. would provide peace of mind after a tumultuous few days.
“Whether it’s one game or two games [I’m in charge], or if it’s a bit longer than that, right now I’m not so sure and that’s not something I’m thinking about – it’s all about [Villarreal]’ said Carrick. “The most important thing for the fans, for everyone, is the result.”
‘I’m sure Pochettino would love the track’
United said in their statement, confirming Solskjaer’s departure on Sunday, that they want to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season, but they are much more likely to appoint a permanent replacement if the right candidate becomes available.
Erik ten Hag, the Ajax coach, said he had heard “nothing” about United’s position, although it is believed he would be another interested party if it were offered. However, it is not expected to be available until the end of the season.
Brendan Rodgers, the manager of Leicester, and Zinedine Zidane, the former Real Madrid coach, and Gareth Southgate, the England manager, have also been strongly linked with the position.
United’s interest in Pochettino dates back to 2016, before he signed a new contract with Tottenham Hotspur. after a successful interim period.
This is not expected to happen again at Carrick, but it is not clear at this stage whether Pochettino would be United’s first choice to sign Solskjaer.
Harry Redknapp, the former Tottenham manager, said he believed Pochettino wanted to live in England and love the job at United, even though he hinted that his failure to win a trophy over a five-and-a-half spell six months at Spurs could be one. factor that counts against him.
“Pochettino, I’m sure he would love the job,” said Redknapp. “But Poch had five good years at Tottenham and didn’t win a trophy as good as he was. I’m sure it’s a job that everyone would jump on – to lead Man United, one of the biggest clubs in the world. Absolutely. I’m sure he would [want it]. His family is still in England, of course he now wants to live in England. No doubt. You can’t turn down Man United, it’s an incredible job.”
“It’s all reactive. nothing is prepared’
Pressure to appoint a new manager is likely to only mount as United continue to slide against Villarreal this week and Premier League leader Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Watford, which marked the end for Solskjaer, was their seventh loss in 13 games.
The Old Trafford hierarchy hopes Carrick can give them some time, and a draw will be good enough to secure progress to the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday night, should Atalanta fail to beat Young Boys. But Rio Ferdinand claimed it was “shameful” that the club found themselves in this situation.
“Suddenly the game happens and we lose, and the club makes a decision,” said the former United defender. “It’s all reactive. Nothing is prepared. Even the management situation, you definitely look at this before.
“You identify a certain candidate and you know it. It’s almost like, ‘Oh, this result happened, we’re going to fire Ole, now we’re looking for someone to come and take charge. We put an interim before the interim, and then we look for a manager.’
“It’s embarrassing actually. You just sit there and try to protect the club, and you want to be positive, but I can’t. Surely there is a candidate who should have been identified weeks ago because you could see what was coming? You see that the club is not performing, you have an international break of two weeks. It’s the perfect time to go around and identify the next candidate.”
United captain Harry Maguire said the players had “enormous responsibility” for the mess at the club and admitted they would “probably say it is the most difficult time of their careers at club level”.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo paid tribute to Solskjaer as five-time World Player of the Year and joined the chorus of United players who gave the Norwegian a warm farewell.
Ronaldo and Solskjaer were teammates when the Portuguese forward first moved to Old Trafford in 2003 for their reunion this summer.
“He was my striker when I first came to Old Trafford and he has been my coach since I came back to Man United,” Ronaldo said in an Instagram post under a photo of him with Solskjaer. “But above all, Ole is an excellent person. I wish him the best in what his life has set aside for him. Good luck, my friend! You deserve it!”