Why Conte, not Po­chet­tino, is the right man for Man Utd

Sunday Observer - - SPORT -

LON­DON - Much of the bui l d- up to t he g a me be­tween Tot­ten­ham and Manch­ester United at Wem­b­ley t oday has been f ocused on Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino. The Spurs man­ager is reck­oned to be the heavy favourite to re­place Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer once his short­term deal ex­pires this sum­mer.

Spurs fans have been pretty vo­cal over what they per­ceive to be dis­re­spect in the tones in which their man­ager is be­ing dis­cussed. It’s been por­trayed in many cir­cles as a mat­ter of for­mal­ity that Po­chet­tino would up sticks and move to Old Traf­ford. But it’s not so sim­ple these days.

This is not the Manch­ester United of 20 top-flight ti­tles. This is not the Manch­ester United of three Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals in four sea­sons be­tween 2008 and 2011. This is a very dif­fer­ent Manch­ester United, where his­tory is the big­gest sell­ing point and the lay of the land does not nec­es­sar­ily lend it­self to the em­pire build­ing that Po­chet­tino would need to thrive.

Conte has proven at Chelsea that he has what it takes to suc­ceed in the grind of the Premier League. He in­stilled a re­mark­able con­sis­tency and dis­ci­pline in the Chelsea squad. It may not have suited ev­ery­one at the time – fall­outs with David Luiz and Diego Costa were par­tic­u­larly ugly – but it scarcely mat­tered. He made Chelsea cham­pi­ons in his first sea­son in charge.

Conte picked up the pieces of Mour­inho’s third-sea­son botch and made the club as good as new. And, cru­cially, he is avail­able.

Conte, af­ter his suc­cesses with Ju­ven­tus and Chelsea, has earned the right to be fussy. He turned down Real Madrid ear­lier this sea­son as he did not feel like tak­ing over from Julen Lopetegui mid-sea­son. He needs time to plan his own project, and con­sid­er­ing the trou­ble San­ti­ago So­lari is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it can be said he dodged a bul­let.

He will, how­ever, be ready for his next chal­lenge next sum­mer, once the fug of the dis­pute with Chelsea has set­tled. And he will be com­ing to the mar­ket with a su­per club in mind. He would be in­ter­ested in what United have to say, just like he would be in­ter­ested in Real at the right time, or Bay­ern Mu­nich. But it is United who would suit him down to the ground.

The play­ers that were good enough and hun­gry enough would stay.

The rest would be frozen out. A cou­ple of key ad­di­tions would be iden­ti­fied. United would quickly have a recog­nis­able style of play and would stick to it. They would be hard to beat and would be well-matched to the chal­lenges of Manch­ester City or Liver­pool.

That is why United a nd Po­chet­tino should stay well away from each other. The job suits Conte and Conte suits the job.

For­mer Chelsea coach Conte and Tot­ten­ham head coach Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino.

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