Pochettino falls down the pecking order as Man United pursue 51-year-old European manager | OneFootball

Pochettino falls down the pecking order as Man United pursue 51-year-old European manager

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Manchester United in favour of hiring Erik ten Hag over Mauricio Pochettino

According to The Independent, Ajax Amsterdam boss Erik ten Hag appears to be the top contender to take over as the next permanent Manchester United manager.

The Red Devils parted ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier this week, following a poor run of results. The 4-1 loss to Watford proved to be the final nail in the Norwegian’s coffin at Old Trafford.

Michael Carrick has since taken over the reins as caretaker manager and recently guided the club to a 2-0 win away to Villarreal. Behind the scenes, however, due diligence is being done on several contenders to take the job.

A new priority

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has long been on the club’s radar since his time with Tottenham Hotspur. He was considered the favourite to take over in 2019 before the job was eventually handed to Solskjaer. Two years on, interest in him remains.

However, the Argentine is not the first choice anymore and is behind Ajax boss ten Hag in the pecking order. Pochettino has failed to get the best out of a star-studded PSG side after failing to win a single trophy at Tottenham, and United executives fear that he has been found out in Ligue 1.

A technically astute manager at Spurs, he has failed to showcase the same ingenuity at the Parc des Princes. Not only has he failed to implement a system of play, but he has also struggled to deal with the personalities of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Given that he has to deal with similar characters at Old Trafford, it does not set a good precedent.

A better fit?

More so, Pochettino’s inability to unlock the full potential of his PSG squad remains a concern. The same cannot be said for ten Hag, who continues to impress at Ajax. He manages the Eredivisie champions with distinction and has led them to five straights wins in the UEFA Champions League group stage this season.

The 51-year-old appears adept at getting the best out of his resources and could be a wise appointment in the long term. He also has experience leading Ajax to trophies, something Pochettino has struggled to do throughout his managerial career.

Curiously enough, both managers faced off against each other in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League semi-final. Despite Lucas Moura pulling one out of the hat for Pochettino’s Tottenham, it can be argued that ten Hag had his counterpart’s number for the majority of the tie. After all, Ajax were mere seconds away from making the showpiece final against Liverpool.

With the Dutchman, the system is king. Ironically it is something Pochettino has failed to showcase at the Parc des Princes. United have long lacked a winning template in terms of tactics, and ten Hag could be the man to provide just that.

His potential appointment would certainly please Donny van de Beek, who has struggled since his move to Old Trafford in 2020. The midfielder was a key component in Ajax’s run to the Champions League semifinal in 2019. ten Hag is well aware of the player’s strengths and could help him recapture the form that saw Man United splash the cash for his services.

For now, it would appear that Man United are willing to take their time and make an informed decision on who their next permanent manager should be. As long as ten Hag continues to do his job at Ajax, he should remain in contention.

The priority right now at Old Trafford is to bring in the right person as the interim manager until the end of the season. Lucian Favre and Rudi Garcia have both impressed the Red Devils hierarchy following initial talks. Others in the fray include Ernesto Valverde, Paulo Fonseca and Ralf Rangnick.

United have gotten a number of key decisions wrong in recent years. They have a chance now to begin afresh. It remains to be seen if they will go on to make the right call this time around.

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