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Mauricio Pochettino: Full history and tactics after becoming favourite to land Man United job



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Manchester United have played their final Premier League game of the season, missing out on Europe completely, yet we are no closer to knowing the fate of manager Erik ten Hag.

This season is set to culminate in a Manchester derby FA Cup final, with the possibility of Europa League football for United next season, should they win.

However, regardless of the final, Ten Hag’s future remains shrouded in uncertainty. Fans, potentially even players and owners, don’t know what will be of the Dutchman.

Naturally, rumours have started to swirl. And fast.

New names seem to be popping up every other day as everyone attempts to guess who could be next to take the hot seat.

The current favourite? Mauricio Pochettino.

Here is the comprehensive rundown on the main contender to take the Old Trafford reigns from Ten Hag, should he depart.


Mauricio Pochettino and Manchester United, a tale as old as time. For years, the Argentinian has seemed almost destined to lead the Red Devils, perhaps coming closest in 2021 following the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Having left Chelsea by mutual consent on Tuesday evening, Pochettino has emerged as a potential option for INEOS this summer.

The 52-year-old is reportedly interested in taking over at United, should the opportunity arise.

He has shared a relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson for years now, meeting the Scot for an infamous lunch in 2016. Ferguson has lobbied for Pochettino’s appointment at United on several occasions.

Career path

The 52-year-old started his managerial career in Spain at Espanyol, where he had been a player for nine years. Having saved the club from relegation in his inaugural half-season, he enjoyed fruitful 2010/11 and 2011/12 campaigns with them. However, in November 2012, Pochettino’s Espanyol contract was terminated by mutual consent after the manager complained about the financial restrictions he was being forced to work under.

Southampton would be the Argentinian’s next landing spot, as he made a name for himself in England on the South coast. An eighth-placed finish in his first full season represented the Saints’ highest league position since 2002/03 and their biggest points tally on record.

He oversaw a now iconic squad that featured the likes of Luke Shaw, Jay Rodriguez, Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, to name a few.

His exploits at Southampton earned him the head coach role at Spurs in May 2014, where he would spend five years. Pochettino guided Spurs to fifth place in his first season, integrating Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Eric Dier as first-team regulars.

Leicester’s historic 2015/16 Premier League victory was rivalled by Pochettino’s Spurs, although a late slip saw the Lilywhites finish in third spot, behind arch-rivals Arsenal. This still represented the club’s highest league finish since 1990.

A third season under the Argentinian yielded a second-placed finish and Spurs’ highest points tally since the English league began under the new denomination: 86 points, just seven off champions Chelsea. The club also enjoyed its first season-long unbeaten run in 52 years as White Hart Lane became a fortress. This was followed by a 77-point league place in third the next season.

Spurs finished fourth with 71 points in 2018/19. However, they did manage to reach the Champions League final following a dramatic comeback in the semi-final away to Ajax. They then lost to Liverpool in Madrid.

Five months later, with Spurs sitting 14th in the Premier League table, Pochettino was dismissed. It brought to an end over five years at the club.

Spurs league finishes under Pochettino:

  • 2014/15 – 5th
  • 2015/16 – 3rd
  • 2016/17 – 2nd
  • 2017/18 – 3rd
  • 2018/19 – 4th

Pochettino landed at Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 and, similar to his Southampton stint, he would spend just one full season at the club, having joined in January the year prior.

That first half-season brought about a second-placed Ligue 1 finish, as Lille pipped the Parisians to the title by just one point. PSG made the semi-final of the Champions League, where they were dumped out by Manchester City.

Pochettino did manage to win the first honour of his managerial career in that first season with a French Super Cup victory over Marseille, and he followed that up with a Coupe de France crown following a win over Monaco.

Normal order was restored in 2021/22, PSG champions as Pochettino won the first league title of his career, although it was announced that he would depart the club at the end of the season.

Chelsea appointed the Argentinian for the 2023/24 season as he stepped into the turbulent Stamford Bridge hotseat.

And that is probably how you would describe Chelsea’s season, turbulent.

Very impressive going forward but caught out at the back too often, perhaps akin to Ten Hag’s United in many ways. However, when you factor in the turnover of players Chelsea have overseen, and the fact that this was Pochettino’s first season in charge, their sixth-placed finish could probably be seen as a success.

Not in the eyes of the Chelsea board, who relieved him of his duties on Tuesday evening, which leads us here.


Some staples of Pochettino’s management career have been his integration of youth and the eager pressing of his sides. He has predominantly implemented a 4-2-3-1, although he has switched to a three at the back at times, and is not fixed in his approach.

He has spoken on philosophy, saying that it is more about making the players feel like he “cares” before any tactics come into it. He is very much a man-manager, and can get the best out of his players.

At Southampton, Pochettino nourished a young Shaw into a Premier League full-back, as the then 18-year-old earned a 2014 World Cup spot alongside teammates Rodriguez, Lallana and veteran Lambert. Kane, Alli and Dier developed into world class players under the manager’s guidance at Spurs, and he has given ten players Premier League debuts at Chelsea this past season.

Looking at how he may look to set United up, we can take inspiration from his peak Spurs team, where the front four dynamic in particular can be mirrored quite well.

Rasmus Højlund will undoubtedly develop as time passes, but if reports are true that United are interested in Ivan Toney, they should pounce. The Brentford forward can bring the same link-up play Kane brought to that Spurs side, albeit to a lower level, while being proven to be prolific in the right environment.

Marcus Rashford has struggled once more this season, but he or Alejandro Garnacho could thrive in the inside forward role Pochettino deployed Heung-Min Son in at White Hart Lane.

Alli burst onto the scene playing behind Kane, very much as a second striker, making late runs into the box and finding the back of the net with regularity. Bruno Fernandes seems tailor-made to replicate this, his attacking qualities stifled by Ten Hag, who has played him deep on several occasions, often to accommodate Scott McTominay.

That leaves the right-hand side, where Christian Eriksen operated as a creative outlet, as opposed to your traditional winger. A current United option who fits is Amad, but if the club are to enter the market for Michael Olise, the Crystal Palace man would fit like a glove, allowed the freedom to express himself on that right flank.

The midfield pivot of Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele provided the perfect blend of defensive security, physicality and technical ability. Kobbie Mainoo has locked down a spot in any prospective United midfield, but his excellence on the ball would be best supplemented by an all-action midfielder alongside him. Amadou Onana has been heavily linked with the club and appears to tick all the boxes needed to fill that gap, should a suitable fee be agreed.

Flying full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker were crucial at Spurs, but perhaps United have more urgent areas to improve this summer, which is why Shaw and Diogo Dalot may keep spots. There is every chance Pochettino would take youngsters like Harry Amass or Jaydan Kamason under his wing, as he has been seen to do in the past.

The centre-back department at United remains up in the air. The incomings remain unknown, but there will definitely be upheaval, with Jarrad Branthwaite, Leny Yoro, Jean-Clair Todibo and Marc Guehi some of the names linked.

Manchester United are reportedly yet to make a decision on Erik ten Hag’s future, and are preparing to play Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday, May 25th.