They used to say the England manager role was an impossible task, but these days it feels like Old Trafford’s hot seat is the one that should hold a health warning. In fact, it has become so impossible that just a connection with it is enough to take a hammer to a promising career.
When Leicester City beat Manchester United in September, it felt like Brendan Rodgers was well positioned to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but since then the Foxes have had such a bad season that the Northern Irishman isn’t even part of the discussion now that an er Looking for a permanent manager.
That battle has been fought between Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag, but if the detriment to Rodgers was immediate, the fall from favor for the Paris Saint-Germain boss has only recently arrived and even Ten Hag is beginning to wobble.
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United had always circled this break at the end of March as a prime opportunity to make progress on that appointment. But if they were hoping for clarity, it isn’t there.
Pochettino has his fans in United’s dressing room, but it’s starting to look like he doesn’t have one in his current dressing room. PSG have lost four of their last six games in all competitions and while the Ligue 1 title is still secure, that will never be enough silver to keep a man working in Paris.
Real Madrid’s collapse in the Champions League was striking, but successive defeats against Nantes, Nice and now Monaco, who beat PSG 3-0 on Sunday, reflect a team and manager drifting apart. Pochettino may be a lot easier to name for United quite soon, but alarm bells should be ringing.
There was always a theory that Pochettino’s spell at PSG wouldn’t really affect his standing in the game as he never looked like a natural fit for that squad but this is starting to get out of hand and it couldn’t be on it. moment have come a worse time for the former Tottenham manager. He compromised on his principles in Paris, but perhaps that was the wrong decision as the locals have never gone to see his football and now a star-studded squad seems to have decided the season is already over.
United admired Pochettino in 2019, before handing Solskjaer a three-year contract, and he still has support in the boardroom and dressing room. But his 14 months at PSG have been mediocre and that should be a concern.
It was almost fitting for United’s season that the two managers who topped their shortlist this summer were also dumped from the Champions League in the last-16 stage. Pochettino’s PSG lost a two-goal lead and Ten Hag’s Ajax lost at home to Benfica to end a competition in which they were tipped as dark horses.
Ajax really should have gotten past Benfica given their excellent record in the group stage, and their departure was more of a surprise than PSG’s. The pressure got the better of them and now they have a fight on their hands to win the Eredivisie title. Ten Hag’s stock will be damaged if his team does not win the title this season, no matter how attractive the football is.
But while Pochettino’s side is on its way to the title and Argentina’s stock is falling, Ajax is in a battle, but Ten Hag may see his value remain stable after all. A 2-1 defeat at Go Ahead Eagles at the end of last month was problematic and they trailed Feyenoord 2-1 at home yesterday with 12 minutes to go.
That would have opened the door for PSV Eindhoven to go to the top, but two late goals gave Ajax a crucial victory and kept some momentum going for Ten Hag. But after a shocking departure from Europe, he really needs to guide his team to what should be a comfortable league title.
Short-term results shouldn’t have too much of an impact on United’s thinking, but for Pochettino and Ten Hag, these falter came at inopportune times. It certainly complicates the picture a bit for what could be a decisive two weeks.
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