Mauricio Pochettino is back on the market after being shown the door by PSG. Despite getting le sac, the former Tottenham manager will still be one of the most in-demand coaches.
Here are five clubs Pochettino might turn up at next…
It may seem odd to go from being sacked by PSG to the next manager of the European champions. But Real, like everyone else, will put Pochettino’s dismissal into context. You have to be a spectacularly bad manager to fail at PSG and for it all to be your fault.
Pochettino still has plenty of credit in the bank from his previous body of work and Real will judge him on that as much as the last 18 months in Paris.
Of course, there isn’t a job available at the Bernabeu. There isn’t a vacancy anywhere right now that Pochettino would fancy filling, but a few months off will doubtless do the manager some good, especially having spent most of his PSG reign away from his family. Mrs Pochettino and the children have stayed in London. If they didn’t fancy Paris, there’s no guarantee that Madrid would appeal either.
But if Real come calling, it would be a job Pochettino would have to consider. Carlo Ancelotti can’t and won’t go on forever – the general consensus seems to be that this will be his final season in charge. Since leaving Milan in 2009, all of Ancelotti’s six jobs since have been, at the most, two-season gigs.
If Ancelotti sees out the full season, the picture will probably have changed. Pochettino may have found employment elsewhere or another strong contender could have emerged. But without a drastic altering of the landscape, Poch will be in the running to replace another manager who left PSG and thrived.
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Pochettino is unlikely to want too much time away since he had the whole of 2020 off between the Spurs and PSG jobs. And it seems the Premier League would be his preferred destination.
Right now, though, the clubs Poch might consider as a project are all fixed up. So the Argentine coach is left waiting for one of the current Premier League managers to suffer the misfortune of being sacked or mutually consented. Which club is likely to be looking for a manager soon?
Southampton, where Pochettino started his English managerial career, could be recruiting if Ralph Hasenhuttl can’t inspire a better start to this season than how they finished the last one. And the fixture list is not kind.
Frank Lampard too will be looking over his shoulder if Everton aren’t off and running quickly. The former Derby and Chelsea boss kept the Toffees up but his reputation was hardly enhanced. The disarray behind the scenes at Goodison might spare him. Or, if there is a takeover, the new owners may want an eye-catching appointment of their own.
Would Pochettino swerve Goodison and leave it to some other sucker or, especially under new ownership with a new stadium on the way, might he see it as a good time to start a project?
Pochettino’s bond with Spurs is unlikely to be broken, and when it seemed like Antonio Conte might jack it in after only a few months in north London, many supporters were clamouring for their former manager to return.
Of course, Conte decided to stick around and Spurs seem to be fulfilling whatever promises they made to convince him to stay. But, as we know of Conte, he’s only ever a bad run of results away from conflict.
If Tottenham don’t maintain their positive start to the transfer window, and they don’t make a good start, domestically and in Europe, those doubts that Conte had may re-emerge and tension between him and the club could bubble up again.
Granted, there’s a lot of ‘could’, ‘might’ and ‘may’ around that possibility. But, Spurs.
Or perhaps Pochettino will finally get the opportunity to manage United after what feels like years of flirting between the club and the manager. Assuming he doesn’t hold a grudge over being overlooked for Erik ten Hag.
Pochettino was in the running to replace Ralf Rangnick, just as he was a front-runner to take over from the two managers before that. But back in the spring, Poch had a job and United reportedly didn’t fancy the prospect of PSG being stubborn, even if only to drive up the compensation. Ten Hag was a more attainable manager, and though he doubtless interviewed well, there seems a strong likelihood that United factored that heavily into their thinking.
Maybe now bridges have been burned after one too many near-misses – but maybe not. If Ten Hag fails, like plenty before him, to get a tune out of this United squad, perhaps the board might think that now, finally, it is Pochettino’s turn.
For that to happen, it feels like Ten Hag has to get it spectacularly wrong, and even if he does, the prospect of United sacking him so soon seems extremely remote. Pochettino and United feel destined to forever remain star-crossed lovers, kept apart by the universe. Oh and United being an absolute sh*tshow for the last few years.
The prospect of Eddie Howe being replaced, or even having pressure heaped upon him, is not one that many Newcastle fans care to contemplate. Wor Eddie has done a cracking job since taking over, not only keeping them in the Premier League, but doing it in some style. So, as far as they as they are concerned, Howe is as safe as houses.
But just you watch the Saudis get twitchy if the team’s rate of improvement doesn’t meet their expectations as the new season progresses.
There was already talk towards the end of the season of Howe’s replacement being sought, with Jose Mourinho fluttering his eyelashes at the Magpies every opportunity he gets. Howe turned out to be a fine appointment for Newcastle in the predicament they were in, but for the Saudis, he only ever felt like a stop-gap. The right man at the right time, not necessarily a long time. The managerial equivalent of Chris Wood.
It may be that Howe pleasantly surprises them, and under him, Newcastle continue their ascent and achieve European football this season. But if the Magpies hit a rocky patch and the Saudis see an opportunity to save face by recruiting a marquee manager, then Pochettino seems the best-placed candidate right now.