With the news of Jose Mourinho’s departure as Manchester United manager, the rumours of Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino’s potential appointment in the vacancy have become stronger and louder. Any long-term Spurs fan by now will have become accustomed to the club’s brightest talents being poached throughout the years: think of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Michael Carrick etc. Many in the media have speculated that Pochettino to United is inevitable. However, there is also reason to say this may never happen , and that for the time being, Spurs fans will be able to sleep easy.
First of all, Manchester United in its current state seems to be a career-threatening move for any football manager who has a reputation to lose. Both David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal experienced this first-hand, with both managers struggling to find high-calibre work after performing relatively well at the helm. Pochettino’s managerial history highlights that he is not averse to turning around a club’s fortunes, as he did with Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham. Although these clubs are respected and established , they do not hold the same commercial and historical stature as Manchester United, alongside the pressures and risks that come with the job. For a manager who is relatively young in his career, it would be a huge risk that could threaten to derail his current meteoric rise through the profession.
The prospect of uprooting his family from their current location to move north to Manchester doesn’t seem to fit his character.
Pochettino has historically had a strong dislike of destructive and volatile egos in the dressing room. At Espanyol, he was quick to drop the club’s record goal scorer and legend Raul Tamudo due to the toxic influence he seemed to spread. Similarly at Tottenham, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kyle Walker have all come into contact with Pochettino’s dislike of internal dissent and disloyalty to the common cause. From what has been portrayed, the Manchester United dressing room seems littered with strong and destructive personalities like Pogba, Sanchez and Martial. This would make any manager’s work in establishing a hierarchy extremely challenging. Add into the mix the intense media scrutiny over Manchester United and the influence which Pogba and his ‘super-agent’ Mino Raiola seem to hold , history suggests that the usually non-confrontational Pochettino would not see this club as a good fit.
On a more practical level, Guillem Balague’s semi-autobiographical book Brave New World portrays Pochettino as a deeply family orientated man. The prospect of uprooting his family from their current location to move north to Manchester doesn’t seem to fit his character. His large family is settled in London; his eldest son (also called Mauricio) is a mainstay in the Tottenham academy, whilst his youngest son is also a bright star in the Tottenham academy. These ties would surely mean a move to Manchester would be a huge upheaval for the family. Football managers are human after all, and if the move would prove problematic for Pochettino’s family, it could be another ‘con’ against him moving there.
For Pochettino, having grown up in a Spanish speaking country, Real Madrid were seen to be the pinnacle of the footballing world.
Whilst there may seem to be a few hurdles obstructing Mauricio’s move to Man United, Real Madrid are the persistent threat that lurk over the horizon. Pochettino’s love of living in Spain during his time with Espanyol, and the large network of friends he and his family have there points to a potential return to Spain in the future. It is well known that he would never manage at Barcelona, due to his loyalties to their city rivals Espanyol, but Madrid would not be out of the question. Pochettino’s footballing childhood in Murphy, Argentina, during the 1980’s was a very formative time for him. This period coincided with years of success for Real Madrid when they were arguably the best team in Europe, winning two Uefa cups and five consecutive La Ligas. For Pochettino, having grown up in a Spanish speaking country, Real Madrid were seen to be the pinnacle of the footballing world.
Assuming that a return to Spain to manage Madrid is on the cards, then a potentially career threatening move to Man United would not seem to be the logical choice. It would seem more logical to see out the remaining years of his contract at Tottenham, and return to Spain to claim the job which it seems he craves. As many a fan will know though, football does not follow the rules of logic. Only time will tell what Pochettino chooses to do.