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