Manchester United‘s board are fearful of missing out on Mauricio Pochettino to Manchester City with Pep Guardiola‘s long-term future at the Etihad still not yet sorted, according to reports. Guardiola’s £20million-a-year contract runs out at the end of the year and City have yet to sit down and agree an extension for the Catalan to take the club into a sixth season.
His five-year stint at City is the longest managerial spell of his career after four-year stays at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
City chief operating officer Omar Berrada declared this week that they will not put pressure on Guardiola, who has won two Premier League titles and four domestic cups during his time in charge, to enter into talks.
Yet the Daily Mirror say that in case Guardiola, 49, declares an intention to move on from City at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, the club have Pochettino in their sights.
The Argentine tactician once again finds himself linked with the Old Trafford hotseat with pressure rising on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pochettino has long been admired by the United hierarchy and there have been suggestions a move could be made this season if Solskjaer’s side continue to struggle.
Although the Red Devils finished third last season, they have started the new campaign with two defeats from three games, conceding nine goals across the losses to Crystal Palace and Tottenham, both at home.
Even their one win at Brighton was fortunate given the Seagulls hit the woodwork five times and United were given a 100th-minute penalty after the final whistle was initially blown.
But the Mirror say that as United keep tabs on free agent Pochettino, who was sacked by Tottenham in November of last year, they are worried they could miss out to City.
PREMIER LEAGUE ON TV: Get NOW TV’s Sky Sports season pass now and save 25 per cent
United will be patient with Solskjaer after delivering a top-four finish last season and overseeing a strong finish to the season.
It is claimed the club’s top brass are aware it has been a tricky start to the season after a lack of rest between the previous campaign and this one and the lack of a real pre-season.
United only got one pre-season friendly in between reaching the Europa League semi-finals last term and their opening loss to Palace last month.
However if results do not improve calls will quickly come for the Norwegian to be given the axe and United are said to be aware Pochettino will not be available forever.
The Mirror say the South American, who led Spurs to four straight top-four finishes and also a Champions League final before a downturn in performances last season, is also liked by some of City’s hierarchy.
Guardiola’s future is said to be a subject of conversation amongst the City first team although he has declared in public that he is open to extending his stay.
City chief Berrada said of Guardiola’s future this week: “It speaks as to how far the club has come that Pep has done his longest managerial tenure with us.
“That means that he is happy being here. He is comfortable here. Pep is the best manager in the world and we want him to stay.
“We will have a conversation with him at the right time and hope he does extend his stay because his contribution has been enormous and will be long-lasting.
“Those conversations will happen at the right time but our position is very clear: we do want him to stay.
“If there was a sense that we would need to start planning for succession, then we will do so, but our priority is doing what we can and speaking to him to make sure he feels comfortable and that all the circumstances are right for him to continue.”
But Pochettino is a fine option for either Manchester club following his success with Southampton and Spurs in the Premier League.
The 48-year-old was linked with the Newcastle role earlier this year but rumours dissipated once the club’s prospective Saudi Arabia-backed takeover collapsed.
Former Spurs and United striker Dimitar Berbatov said in his recent Betfair column of Pochettino’s future: “To me, it is amazing that Mauricio Pochettino is available for this job, one of football’s finest coaches in my opinion.
“You can say maybe he waited for this [United] job, but that is very risky for a manager to do, and I cannot believe another club hasn’t snapped him up.
“Pochettino may be ‘the man’, but at some stage, they were all ‘the man’ – [David] Moyes, [Louis] van Gaal, [Jose] Mourinho, all were the next saviour at one stage.
“For United fans, I would say that every single person connected to the team in any way are all suffering.
“The ones that will express their feelings the loudest will be the fans, and I can understand this.
“United are led by people who want success for the club, and the glory days will return, of that there is no doubt – just when that is, is the question.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken some criticism recently, I can understand why the odds say he is the most likely manager to leave his post, especially if they continue down this road.
“The pressure on him will only continue to grow, and if they continue to fail to win points, the point will likely come where action is taken. I believe he is still fine for the job personally, and we will have to see.”
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here
Published at Sun, 11 Oct 2020 05:00:00 +0000