Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is open to the possibility of a mid-season switch to Manchester United, following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former Tottenham Hotspur boss is reportedly unsettled at the Parc des Princes, which could provide United with the opportunity to poach the Argentine away from PSG.
Alongside Zinedine Zidane, Pochettino was regarded highly as the potential candidate to succeed Ole following the Norwegian’s sacking over the weekend, however United were wary that they might find it difficult to prise Pochettino away from PSG midway through the 2021/22 season.
But following Zidane’s disinterest at the Old Trafford job and Pochettino’s potential availability, the opportunity has presented itself for the Argentine to make his return to the Premier League with United.
While United hasn’t made any formal move on Pochettino, it was reported that the 49-year old was unsettled at PSG, due to his role there being reduced to that of a mere head coach. Much of the broader club and footballing issues that were normally handled by a manager in any typical club were taken care of by PSG sporting director Leonardo.
Pochettino had enjoyed more control during his five years at Tottenham and he felt that a move to United would help him regain that control.
PSG are currently top of the Ligue 1 table with 37 points to their name, 11 more than 2nd placed OGC Nice. The Parisians are also still well and truly alive in the UEFA Champions League, being currently 2nd in Group A with only a point separating them and leaders Manchester City.
And indeed, Pochettino will visit Manchester as his PSG side takes on City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.
It was suspected that part of Pochettino’s unease at Paris was down to his squad’s unbalanced nature. Packed with superstars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Lionel Messi, Pochettino must work hard to ensure that his superstars would gel together as a cohesive unit, however, he was faced with an overwhelming surplus of left-backs as well as the presence of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who he felt the club shouldn’t sign last summer as Keylor Navas was doing a decent job as PSG custodian.
Reports from Parc des Princes emerged that Donnarumma was unhappy playing second fiddle to Navas at PSG, something that was repeatedly refuted by his agent Mino Raiola, however, the reports would undoubtedly cause more headaches for Pochettino.
Donnarumma’s transfer to PSG was something that was out of Pochettino’s control, as all decisions regarding players’ recruitment fell into the hands of Leonardo, with the sporting director having the final say and Pochettino could only helplessly act as an advisor.
The appointment of Pochettino as PSG manager in January raised a number of eyebrows considering that he had never won any major silverware in his previous tenures at RCD Espanyol, Southampton, and Tottenham, however, in his first season with the Parisians he won the 2020 Trophee des Champions and the 2020/21 Coupe de France.
Despite the two trophies, Pochettino did not find any success in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League, becoming the third PSG manager in the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) era since Carlo Ancelotti in 2011/12 and Unai Emery in 2016/17 to miss out on the Ligue 1 title, with PSG being pipped to the 2020/21 trophy by Lille. The Parisiens also failed to repeat their 2019/20 Champions Legue final appearance in the 2020/21 season, with City knocking PSG out of the competition in the semifinal.
Pochettino’s PSG also found themselves losing the 2021 Trophee des Champions title to Lille, although right now they’re on course to reclaim the league title that they’ve lost to Les Dogues last season.
While Pochettino is reluctant to make a mid-season switch elsewhere, his current frustrations could entice United to scoop him away from PSG and into the Old Trafford hot seat. United’s cause are also helped by the interest shown by the QSI towards Zidane, who has been out of work since leaving Real Madrid for the second time in May. PSG snapping up Zidane would allow Pochettino to move back to the Premier League with United, ensuring a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
Should their attempt in poaching Pochettino fails, United still have other possibilities for Ole’s successor.
The Red Devils are an admirer of Ajax Amsterdam’s Erik ten Haig, though the Dutchman isn’t likely to leave the Eredivisie giants mid-way through the season. United are also keen admirers of Brendan Rodgers, however Leicester City would be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that the Northen Irishman would stay at the King Power Stadium.
Options for an interim manager include former France national team manager Laurent Blanc, who’s currently working in Qatar with Al-Rayyan, as well as Steve Bruce, who recently left Newcastle United following their takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). Though considering Bruce’s recent reputation as a mediocre manager, his appointment to the Old Trafford hot seat, even on an interim basis, could cause the fanbase to go up in arms once again.