Mauricio Pochettino to Man Utd makes perfect sense in a summer where little else does

Dave Tickner
Man Utd Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino is being linked with Manchester United.

We always had high hopes for this summer.

A relatively, and frankly unacceptably, fallow year for in-season managerial shenanigans always had the tantalising potential to deliver a summer of MANAGERGEDDON by way of payback.

But we did not anticipate that things would become this entirely batsh*t this insanely fast.

Roberto De Zerbi leaving Brighton this summer wasn’t a huge surprise, but it being announced before the season actually finished certainly was.

We’ll admit to feeling slightly embarrassed that we are still capable of being caught out by anything that happens at the Chelsea clownshow, but Clearlake sacking their longest-serving manager after a brilliant end to the season secured European football and a clear sense of things clicking into place in a run of 14 games where the only defeat came against Arsenal did, to our undying shame, precisely that.

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But even that ludicrous slice of nonsense was nothing compared to Wednesday’s revelation that Vincent Kompany successfully steering Burnley to 19th place with two whole wins against teams who didn’t go down with them had inevitably caught the eye of <checks notes> Bayern Actual Munich.

It’s a failing upwards to make Roberto Martinez blush. Craig Bellamy is going to be coaching Bayern Munich. What on earth did Harry Kane do in a past life? It must have been horrendous.

Such has been the absurd speed and ferocity of the managerial news cycle that Liverpool – Liverpool – have this week announced their first new manager in almost nine years and within 24 hours it was completely trampled underfoot and overtaken by events.

But amid all this insanity there now exists a kernel of sanity. There is one club that surely cannot believe their luck. And that is Manchester United, who have an open goal that even Erling Haaland couldn’t pass up.

What a result this is for Sir Jim and the lads. In another week, Dan Ashworth not understanding how email works would be a major and embarrassing story for the club. This week barely anyone has noticed and they’ve just been handed their ideal manager on a plate.

So far, this summer – and we say summer but the English season hasn’t even actually finished yet – has been defined by two plus two equalling about 854737324819, but Pochettino to United is surely a case where four is the right answer for everyone.

It just makes sense. Assuming as at this stage we must that the current levels of absurdity do not extend to actual football, Erik ten Hag’s defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup final will be his last game as manager of Manchester United.

The man is too deep in denial about how deep the problems with his team and methods truly are, and it’s reached a stage where even a second cup win in two seasons cannot mask the underlying problems.

He’s not the right man for United and certainly not for the new regime. The problem for United, and get-out-of-jail-free card for Ten Hag, was that no manager remotely available really was ideal. Gareth Southgate or Graham Potter might have the right sort of character but not the club-level CV required. Elite managers are out there, but didn’t really chime with the apparent vibe of INEOS’ United project. Eighteen potentially successful but divisive and narky months of a Tuchel or a Conte never really held much appeal.

But now there is a wonderfully simple and elegant solution in the inexplicably available Pochettino. He is a manager United have long coveted, while it always felt like the one job in English football that caught his eye even when things were at their best at Spurs.

Ratcliffe is a known admirer who wanted Pochettino at Nice and we’d always felt that the timing of his United takeover was a touch unfortunate coming so soon after Poch had taken a Chelsea job that never really sat right.

Pochettino himself has also lucked out here, and we are absolutely certain the potential availability of the United job was a factor in him feeling able to stand his ground and make some pretty reasonable demands to continue in his position at Chelsea.

This is a summer when good managers hold a lot of cards. In a world where Kompany is off to Bayern Munich and the enormously impressive but spectacularly untested Kieran McKenna may well be the next Chelsea boss, it is a wonderful time for Pochettino to find himself unemployed.

Chelsea were ruinously stupid to get rid and United would be equally daft not to act.

There was one major obstacle preventing United moving on from Ten Hag: the lack of a perfect candidate to replace him.

Chelsea removing that obstacle is an incredible unforced error only made funnier by the fact it’s not even the stupidest aspect of their decision.

READ: Who will be the next manager of Manchester United?