Tottenham's Pochettino Is The Right Man For Manchester United But They Might Be The Wrong Club For Him


After 90 minutes in which his Watford team had been relentlessly penned back around their box, manager Quique Sanchez Flores was more than willing to expand on just how good Tottenham Hotspur had been in Saturday’s 1-0 win.

This actually went way beyond magnanimity towards victorious opposition. Flores almost seemed in awe of how relentlessly brilliant Spurs were, lavishing Mauricio Pochettino’s side with praise, saying they are the finest team Watford have faced this season.

“For me, it’s the best. Because we play twice against City, twice against Tottenham, twice against Chelsea, and I think this is the more complete team.

“It was impossible. It was the first time we have the… we try to train a lot, and try to take a care a lot what happen in transition. We know perfectly what we want to do when we recuperate the ball, we try to play, when we recuperate the ball, we try to put the ball far away… but it was impossible. It was impossible because they are like animals there, trying to beat and recuperate the ball as quick as possible.

“You need high velocity in thinking and playing, and it was impossible today.”

He admitted his players came in almost exhausted.

“They know that we were playing against an amazing team. They recognise that this may be the best team we play this season.”

The question increasingly being asked is whether they’re that good because their manager should now be recognised as one of the best in Europe.

Pochettino has done supremely with a young squad that seems well ahead of its own development in being second in the league, and that after fairly low turnover. Leicester’s season has actually meant Spurs have been able to do that in much quieter fashion, but it’s still attracted attention in certain significant places - most notably Old Trafford. One of the Glazers is understood to be a huge fan of Pochettino.

That leads to another question increasingly being asked: although it seems more and more likely that Jose Mourinho will be the next United manager, should they be actually looking to the Argentine?

Pochettino has been mentioned by some as a potential “compromise option” at Old Trafford, given that Mourinho’s approach still doesn’t entirely fit all of the club’s idealised principles. By contrast, Flores’ description of Spurs almost perfectly describes a style perfect for United, right down to the fact that it was applied by a team of outfield players all under 30 years of age.

It comes down to this: Pochettino may not have the existing cast-iron CV of Mourinho, but he does have distinctive coaching principles that would appear to make progress - if not outright success - rather likely. What’s more, he also clearly has the mentality to take over a job as big as Manchester United.

He would undoubtedly be good for the club - but would the club be good for him?

For all that debate about his suitability to United, there is a strong argument Pochettino would be far better served by staying at Spurs for the foreseeable.

Things at Old Trafford currently require a lot of work and, although they have the money to temporarily address problems with high-priced signings, those type of buys don’t necessarily suit Pochettino's style. He demands players have a certain mentality in order to apply his game, and that is precisely why Spurs are so supremely drilled.

Given the quality of the side, at that age, it would almost seem a waste to consider leaving so quickly - not that he is doing so.

He is properly building something of his own at White Hart Lane, and there should be genuine excitement about what this group are capable of under Pochettino, especially since they are already so ahead of schedule.

There’s also the fact that, quite simply, it would mean more. Higher achievements are more impressive at a lesser-resourced club - not that Pochettino allows anyone to think that way.