Tottenham v Manchester United: Should Solskjaer or Pochettino get Old Trafford top job?

By Sports Desk January 11, 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's winning run as Manchester United's interim manager is on the line against the front-runner for the job, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, when the sides meet at Wembley on Sunday.

Pochettino has long been talked of as a future United boss and the sacking of Jose Mourinho last month created a vacancy, which has been filled impressively by Solskjaer on an interim basis.

The Molde manager has set out his stall with five wins out of five and has made no secret of his desire to earn the chance to take charge permanently at the end of the season.

Pochettino, meanwhile, has shown signs of frustration with Tottenham's transfer policy, but also said this week he could envisage staying in north London for 20 years.

But who is most equipped to earn one of the biggest jobs in football? Two Omnisport writers, Jamie Smith and Jon Fisher, make their case.

POCHETTINO - Jamie Smith

Tottenham's 3-0 Premier League win at Old Trafford in August was a clear sign Mourinho's star was waning, with Pochettino the coming man.

As an audition for the United job, the counter-attacking football used by Spurs in that victory may have counted against Pochettino, but he could not have failed to catch the eye of United chief executive Ed Woodward.

The 46-year-old is reportedly Woodward's favourite for the role and it is easy to see why. He is hugely popular with players, Spurs play attractive football, he develops talent and perhaps most importantly he is a club-builder, which United desperately need in the post-Alex Ferguson era.

The lack of silverware in an otherwise superb coaching career remains a blot on Pochettino's copybook, although Spurs may right that record in this season's EFL Cup having earned a 1-0 lead in their semi-final against London rivals Chelsea.

But it is easy to argue Pochettino could have delivered trophies had he been given more backing in the transfer market, with Lucas Moura the only player to have joined Spurs in the past year.

Harry Kane has grown into the world's top poacher under the Argentinian, while Christian Eriksen is now among the planet's top playmakers, earning links to LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid - the pair spectacularly realising their potential largely down to Pochettino's hard work.

If United want a likable manager with Premier League experience, who can work to a budget considerably smaller than that of clubs like rivals Manchester City, it is clear Pochettino is the outstanding candidate.

SOLSKJAER - Jon Fisher

The role of the modern-day manager at the elite level has changed in recent years and it's one of the reasons why Solskjaer is even in the running to take over at Manchester United for the long term.

You don’t need to be a tactical genius or an ace motivator – the key quality required is the ability to harmonise a dressing room of multi-language, multi-ethnic, multi-millionaires.

Zinedine Zidane is the best example of this. His tactics were frequently muddled – although always centred around attacking football – but the morale he fostered in his Real Madrid squad meant the players usually dug him out of a hole.

"You can talk all you want about tactics or techniques, but if you don't have the players on your side, you won't have the collective motivation to put a system in place or the players to make it work,” said another former Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti when asked to discuss Zidane’s secret.

One look at Solskjaer at United and you can see parallels. The Norwegian is hugely popular in the dressing room and on the terraces.

He has influential players like Paul Pogba on board and firing. The result? Five successive wins. 

Solskjaer is the safe choice. Bringing in Pochettino would require the players to play a different game and, like it or not, Pogba and his team-mates hold all the aces.

Related items

  • Barcelona 3 Levante 0 (4-2 agg): Dembele at the double as Barca advance Barcelona 3 Levante 0 (4-2 agg): Dembele at the double as Barca advance

    Ousmane Dembele's brace and a second-half goal from Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona beat Levante 3-0 at Camp Nou, as they comfortably overturned a first-leg deficit to progress to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

    Trailing 2-1 in the tie, Ernesto Valverde handed a start to Messi and he played a part in both of Dembele's goals before making sure of the aggregate victory by finding the net himself just after the break.

    However, Levante president Quico Catalan had already said his club will challenge Barcelona's progression, with reports in Spain suggesting the LaLiga champions fielded an ineligible player in the previous meeting.

    Defender Chumi featured in that game, even though he had been due to serve a suspension after picking up five bookings in the Segunda Division B, and Catalan told reporters prior to kick-off on Thursday that Levante would lodge an official complaint to the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

    The selection of Messi, who did not feature in the first leg, was an indication of Barcelona's intent to progress, and the Argentinian twice came close to scoring in the opening 25 minutes, with goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez parrying away a free-kick before diverting another try wide with his foot.

    Yet Barca soon went ahead on aggregate as Dembele benefitted from two moments of good fortune to score twice in as many minutes.

    First, the ball looped up off the Frenchman and went in following Erick Cabaco's desperate slide tackle, before Dembele's weak finish from a tight angle was helped in by Fernandez's foot to make it 2-0.

    Messi was then played in by Dembele only to see his effort from point-blank range denied by Fernandez, the keeper then thwarting Philippe Coutinho and Messi again before the break.

    Barca's aggregate lead was only a solitary goal until Messi finally got on the scoresheet nine minutes into the second half.

    Dembele was involved as he threaded a superb pass through to Nelson Semedo, who squared the ball for Messi to slot past Fernandez for the home side's third.

    A hat-trick alluded Dembele, though, as he fired just wide late on, while the woodwork denied Emmanuel Boateng scoring for Levante in stoppage time.

    What does it mean? Barca through, for now

    Levante president Catalan's comments prior to kick-off did not serve as a distraction to Barcelona, who did the job on the pitch. As it stands, they will be in Friday's last-eight draw, though the powers-that-be may have something to say about that.

    Dembele at the double

    He only scored four times in his debut campaign at Camp Nou but Dembele already has a dozen in 2018-19. There was a degree of luck in both of the 21-year-old's first-half goals, but his link-up play with Messi suggests he is beginning to feel more at home.

    Chance to impress passes Coutinho by

    Dembele is not the only one to have experienced early struggles in his Barcelona career, with Coutinho as yet failing to hit the same heights he reached at Liverpool prior to his January 2018 move. The Brazilian, who was withdrawn for Luis Suarez just after the hour mark, has still not scored from open play since October.

    What's next?

    Leaders Barcelona will look to make it seven wins in a row in LaLiga when they host Leganes on Sunday, with Levante hosting Real Valladolid on the same day.

  • Levante to lodge complaint over Barcelona Copa selection Levante to lodge complaint over Barcelona Copa selection

    Levante president Quico Catalan has confirmed his club will lodge an official complaint to the Spanish Football Federation over their Copa del Rey tie with Barcelona, with reports suggesting the LaLiga champions fielded an ineligible player in the first leg.

    Barca slipped to a surprise 2-1 loss in the first meeting last week, their first defeat in all competitions since a 4-3 reverse at home to Real Betis last November.

    Ernesto Valverde named a much-changed line-up for that fixture, including selecting Chumi in his starting XI.

    However, the Barcelona B defender was due to serve a suspension after picking up five bookings in the Segunda Division B.

    The return leg was held at Camp Nou on Thursday and Catalan confirmed Levante will go the authorities and make a legal case over the matter, regardless of whether they advance or not.

    "It is not an easy situation, us sporting people like to win on the pitch," Catalan said to reporters prior to kick-off.

    "Whatever happens, Levante will go before the federation with this situation tomorrow (Friday).

    "There will be a complaint if we do not qualify. And if we do, there will be a report to the federation to explain what has happened.

    "We understand there is sufficient precedent which allows Levante to, unfortunately, go ahead to the Federation with these facts.

    "Our legal department will keep working and will work all night to prepare the details of the statement we will send tomorrow. But we understand that we have the precedent and the solid foundations to do so."

  • Everton do not have financial conditions to enter transfer market - Silva Everton do not have financial conditions to enter transfer market - Silva

    Everton do not have the "financial conditions" to sign players in the January transfer window, according to Marco Silva.

    The Toffees are 10th in the Premier League having responded to back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Leicester City with a 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth.

    Reports suggest their forward line is set to be depleted with Oumar Niasse said to be nearing a loan move to Cardiff City.

    But they may not be able replace the forward, with boss Silva telling reporters: "When you asked me the last few weeks the possible players coming or not in the market, I told you that you just can't sign someone if someone leaves the club or we sell someone.

    "We don't have the financial conditions to go in the market, [that] is the feedback I have at the moment. I have to find different solutions."

    Everton are thought to be keen on signing Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea following his struggles while out on loan at Valencia during the first half of the campaign.

    However, Silva added: "It is not the moment for us to talk about player A, B, C or D [and] if they could interest our model as a team.

    "We have to work with the players we have here, develop them, let them get better every day. This is our job.

    "What can happen in the market you know already, what are our possibilities as a club and my possibilities as a manager to do or not."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.