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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became another Manchester United manager who was failed by the club hierarchy in the transfer market. He was promised Jadon Sancho all summer and was delivered two talented but unproven wingers in Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo on deadline day.
David Moyes was promised Cesc Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale but the club signed Marouane Fellaini on deadline day. Louis van Gaal has made it clear that the club signed none of his top targets during his two years at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho has not said it loud, but he was deeply disappointed at the way the club signed a back-up full-back, a rotational midfielder and a third-choice goalkeeper in 2018 after they finished second in the league table, 18 points behind Manchester City.
The worrying pattern for Solskjaer would be that all three managers were also sacked by the same board who refused to back them properly in the market.
And with a 6-1 defeat at home behind him and a horrid run of games in the league and Champions League to come after the international break, the odds are now short on Solskjaer even surviving as Manchester United manager until the end of the year.
On deadline day, the first reports of Manchester United establishing contact with Mauricio Pochettino emerged. The former Tottenham boss has been on the club’s radar for years and he was on the shortlist when the Red Devils appointed Jose Mourinho in 2016.
The reports of the Argentine being lined up as Solskjaer’s replacement did the rounds last year as well and he is likely to be the top choice to take over from if the Norwegian is sacked over the course of the next few months or at the end of the season.
Is Mauricio Pochettino the right fit for Manchester United?
It is still bemusing that Mauricio Pochettino has remained without a club close to a year after getting sacked at Tottenham. The Argentine had run his course at Spurs and the feeling was that he needed to move on from the north London club after Daniel Levy failed to back him properly in the transfer window.
The 48-year-old was very much wanted at Barcelona in the summer but his insistence on getting a long-term contract and his history with Espanyol made him an awkward candidate. The Catalan giants eventually opted to bring in former player Ronald Koeman.
Given the political turmoil Barcelona are going through at the moment, Pochettino is likely to be happy to stay out of that mess for the moment.
On the other hand, if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to flounder, it is only a matter of time before Manchester United start looking for another manager.
On paper, Mauricio Pochettino is very much the ideal fit for Old Trafford. He is committed to playing fast, attacking and progressive football and has shown a willingness to trust young players.
He backed Harry Kane to become Tottenham’s number 9 and didn’t shy away from playing Dele Alli after he arrived from the lower leagues of English football. Tottenham at their best played aggressive and attacking football and often overwhelmed teams at White Hart Lane.
It is the kind of football Manchester United fans are likely to enjoy and with a set of brilliant young forwards in the squad, Pochettino could, in theory, take the current squad to the next level.
The Argentine has also shown an ability to work under a tight budget. It was one of his main sources of frustration at Tottenham as Daniel Levy continued to penny-pinch.
But Mauricio Pochettino helped Spurs to punch above their weight in the Premier League while teams around them continued to spend heavily in the market.
He is likely to get more money to play around with at Old Trafford but as David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can attest, Manchester United owners are not akin from changing plans in the middle of a window and close the tap on funds.
It is likely to be a key consideration as well from the club hierarchy if and when they want to replace Solskjaer. They are unlikely to go for a manager who would want €200m to spend next summer.
Manchester United are investing heavily on youngsters since last year and they would want someone who would be committed to bringing them through while spending some money on the first team as well.
Mauricio Pochettino’s style of football and commitment to youth would make him palatable to Manchester United fans and the Argentine’s ability to work under a budget would be attractive to the owners.
Is it the right time to bring in Pochettino? Solskjaer’s prospects look bleak
Life as a Manchester United manager looked a lot more comfortable for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in July. His team had just finished third in the Premier League and earned their place in the Champions League. Manchester United had played well following the mid-season break and there was the promise of Jadon Sancho joining a talented forward line in the summer.
A few months later, there is a sense of doom and gloom at Old Trafford. A poor start to the season didn’t help his cause and questionable business in the transfer window has ratcheted up the pressure.
The manner of their defeat to Tottenham at Old Trafford, last weekend would have worried the Manchester United hierarchy. The players showed very little character to stem the rot and Spurs just waltzed passed them to score six goals. Ole Solskjaer looked lost on the touchline, a look that we have seen on the faces of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho in the last seven years.
Following an away trip to Newcastle United after the international break, Manchester United will face Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, RB Leipzig, Arsenal, Istanbul Basaksehir and Everton in the back-to-back league and European fixtures.
It is a potentially horror run for a side who look bereft of confidence at the moment. Solskjaer would point towards his record in the big games but very few would be surprised if the Norwegian is not in the dugout by the time November rolls out.
Solskjaer is also not on a big contract at Old Trafford and sacking him would bring much less financial pain to Manchester United compared to when they got rid of Jose Mourinho two years back.
And with Mauricio Pochettino available to take on the job immediately, the decision is not likely to be a complicated one for the Manchester United suits, if results don’t improve soon.
Manchester United showed last season that their starting eleven are good enough to take on any side in the Premier League and even in Europe. The arrival of Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani has added more depth to the squad.
Mauricio Pochettino’s teams are often more than sum of their parts and he would have a talented but a bloated squad to work with if he takes over from Solskjaer in the middle of the season.
The club would also have to make a calculation whether Pochettino can get them into the top four by the end of the season if Solskjaer’s side continue to flounder in the coming weeks.
The Argentine has shown that he can consistently achieve Champions League football, which is the target for the Glazer family at the moment no matter what Ed Woodward says on again winning the Premier League as a goal.
Manchester United showed more patience in the Norwegian last season when they won just four of their opening 14 league games. But the scenario has changed a year later and if results do not improve soon, the spectre of Mauricio Pochettino is only going to get bigger for the current Red Devils boss.