Mauricio Pochettino to Man Utd: Seven reasons why sacking Solskjaer would be a mistake


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has an unenviable situation on his hands at Manchester United.

All things considered, you have to credit the club legend for leading them to Champions League qualification last season with their second highest league finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

Sure, there was disappointment with semi-final defeats in the FA Cup and Europa League, but the Norwegian looked to have rescued a season that was destined to be disappointing from the flames.

Frustrating transfer window

However, to say things have gone downhill since the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign would be the mother of all understatements and serious questions are already being asked of Solskjaer.

Simply put, the United coach wasn't backed in the transfer window and their failure to sign Jadon Sancho was indicative of their fortunes in the market until the very last minute.

Regardless of how the likes of Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles go on to perform, the last-gasp dash to bring in signings tells you everything you need to know about United's strategy or lack of one.


Pochettino to Man Utd?

It seems to have impacted performances on the pitch, too, with the Red Devils having only gathered three points from their opening three games in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace humbled 3-1 them at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho's Tottenham thrashed them 6-1 and the solitary victory away to Brighton was literally saved after the full-time whistle.

The situation has been worrying to the extent that reports by the Daily Star and the Mirror were claiming earlier this week that United had already made contact with Mauricio Pochettino.


Seven reasons why it's a bad idea

It's claimed that the former Tottenham boss will be teed up as Solskjaer's replacement if results don't improve and that the switcheroo in the United dugout could happen as soon as November.

A decent swap? Well, here at GIVEMESPORT, we have our fair share of reservations and wanted to present the side of the argument that Solskjaer shouldn't be sacked to bring in Pochettino.

Naturally, it's impossible to predict how that scenario would actually pan out, but there are seven reasons why we think United swapping their current boss for Pochettino would be a mistake:


1. Continuing the vicious cycle

This is the big one. Let us introduce to you the United cycle: hire manager, back them, they deliver Champions League football, fail to back them, sack them and then repeat.

That's exactly what happened with Louis van Gaal, exactly what happened with Jose Mourinho and it would be third time lucky if United brought the axe down on Solskjaer to pave the way for 'Poch'.

The Albert Einstein quote comes to mind: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

And this would arguably be the most damning instance of the three because there were early signs of United backing Solskjaer for having more of a long-term vision than his two predecessors.

If they were to rip up that progress to dip back into their merry-go-round of hiring and firing, then there's little reason to think that United won't keep bobbing in and out of the top four each season.


2. Director of Football is more important

That leads nicely on to the second point and that there's not enough evidence that first-team management is the problem at the club and therefore, it has the potential to paper over the cracks.

There's no doubting that hiring Pochettino would bring about a new-manager bounce and instil the sort of positivity at Old Trafford that would distract everyone from the club's more systemic issues.

The fast-paced nature of football would allow such a decision to distract from the problems surrounding transfer strategy and wage structure sufficiently to slip United back into their cycle.

But there's good reason to think that bringing in a Director of Football such as Edwin van der Sar would bring more long-term improvements to United than swapping Solskjaer with Pochettino.

A clearer vision for the future would allow them to rebuild in a way they haven't since Ferguson's retirement in 2013 without having to shed managers as they enter or approach their third season.


3. Pochettino is no more of a winner than Solskjaer

Make no mistake, having won no trophies doesn't suddenly make you a rubbish coach, but surely if United are going to make yet another managerial change, they want it to be the final push to becoming title challengers again?

I'm not going to deny that Pochettino would be an upgrade on Solskjaer, but is he enough of an upgrade to make it worth the upheaval, readjustment and beginning of a new cycle? Not for me.

The fact Pochettino failed to win a single piece of silverware across his six years with Tottenham gives us little evidence that he is more or less of a winner than the current manager is.

And lest we forget this Pochettino quote: “Again we’re going to have the debate whether a trophy will take the club to the next level I don’t agree with it. It only builds your ego."


4. Potential pushover in the market

What makes Pochettino such an appetising recruitment is what he achieved at Tottenham despite having relatively little backing in the transfer window, going over 500 days without a signing at one point.

However, there's a flip side to this, because although United would never be quite that rapacious, it suggests that Pochettino might become a passive player in club transfer strategy once again.

That's not to say that's what the Argentine wants as a manager - besides, it likely contributed to his Spurs exit - but it gives United a precedent for his tolerance and adaptability to low spending.

Would that make him an attractive proposition for the Glazers? More than likely, but it wouldn't make Pochettino the vehicle for change and investment that United need to make progress this season.


5. Records against the top six

Fans who accuse Solskajer of being an 'overhyped PE teacher' or tactically inept need to remember his incredible record against the top six, which can't necessarily be said of Pochettino with Spurs.

Solskjaer secured no less than three wins over Manchester City last season, including two at the Etihad, as well as three wins over Chelsea and becoming the first team to get points off Liverpool.

In fact, the current United boss has actually won more games against the top six than he's lost or drawn, whereas Pochettino only boasted a 28.3% record during his time in the Premier League.

It might seem trivial, but if United are going to consistently qualify for the Champions League, then it's imperative they continue the form they've started to show against their top four competitors.


6. Sets a worrying precedent 

Let's take a step back for a minute and wonder exactly how much Solskjaer has contributed to the situation that United find themselves in right now. As far as we're concerned, not all that much.

Bear in mind for a moment that ESPN reported on Wednesday that United failed to sign a single player that Solskjaer had provided for them on his shortlist for the summer transfer window.

Not only were deals for Jadon Sancho and Dayot Upamecano or Nathan Ake not reached, but there weren't first-team acquisitions in the right-wing or centre-back positions in general.

It makes you think that finishing third last season was just about as far as Solskjaer - and any coach short of the highest tier, for that matter - could take the current squad shy of new signings.

As a result, you run the risk of making the United project look like an unsavoury one for certain managers when their potential forbearers will have, in part, been essentially thrown under the bus.


7. Concerns about players' futures

You only have to look at the flood of United players signing new contracts when Solskjaer settled in the job to see what a positive atmosphere he installed, so it would be a risk to upset the applecart.

Sure, some of the deals were for squad players like Phil Jones, but do you think David de Gea and Anthony Martial, players who have previously considered leaving, would have signed to stay if they didn't believe in Solskjaer?

But if Pochettino arrived, while it might encourage some to stick around, I'm not convinced he's the sort of big-name winner nor United through and through like Solskjaer to inspire a minimal turnover.

Why is this important? Well, with Pogba's deal ending in 2021, you have to wonder whether it's worth showing Solskjaer the door unless it's for a name and project big enough to guarantee that he changes his mind.

And while, yes, Pochettino would perhaps be a bigger draw in terms of transfer incomings than Solskjaer, I again fear that this difference would be as minimal as their relative knack for winning.


GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

Is Solskjaer one of the best managers in the world? Of course not, but Pochettino isn't enough of a marked improvement for me to think that United continuing this vicious cycle is a good idea.

I just can't understand how the club are going to make continual, healthy progress towards competing for the Premier League title again while they keep going around in circles.

I was one of the people applauding the United board for backing Solskjaer through tricky patches last season and what he achieved in mid-2020 is at least deserving of more time. 


Simply put, I don't think there's an available head coach that would bring about the long-term improvements that United are after with the squad available at present.

Sure, Pochettino would arrive and instantly provide the short-term bounce that these sort of changes bring, but the same old cracks would start widening as soon as his project wasn't backed.

When there is so little indication that United's current woes are down to the manger, it shouldn't be his head to roll unless there's a bona fide world-beating coach available to hire.


I don't think Pochettino would do a bad job at United by any means but for me, there has to be a course correction at Old Trafford and throwing Solskjaer overboard isn't the right way to do it.

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