Comparing what Mauricio Pochettino inherited at Spurs to Man Utd now
Former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has often been linked with the Old Trafford hot seat, even during his own tenure at White Hart Lane, and he is among the first candidates reportedly being considered if Solskjaer is sacked.
It’s now just under a year since the Argentine was dismissed from Spurs, but were he to re-enter the game, how would succeeding Solskjaer compare to taking over from Tim Sherwood in 2014? We’ve taken a look to find out.
Last league finish
Sherwood’s time at the Spurs helm was short but fairly sweet. The gilet-wearing head coach took over from Andre-Villas Boas in December 2013, following a poor start to the season. Results did improve for the North Londoners, who finished sixth in the Premier League, two points behind Everton and 10 behind bitter rivals Arsenal.
However, things had begun to unravel, as Sherwood lost five of his last 11 Premier League games, while there was little to celebrate in the cups. This prompted Daniel Levy to sack him at the end of the season, bringing in Pochettino.
Last term, Solskjaer led United to a third-placed finish in the league, sitting above Chelsea on goal difference. However, they were still 15 points off Manchester City and 33 behind Liverpool. Despite the large gap, bringing Champions League football back to Old Trafford will feel like an achievement.
Things haven’t started too well this time around though, as United have faced a plethora of problems off the pitch, which seem to have had an impact on it. They have won just one of their first three league games, putting them 16th in the table.
Tottenham had used 28 players in the Premier League season before Pochettino arrived. As follows:
Hugo Lloris, Michael Dawson, Paulinho, Mousa Dembele, Roberto Soldado, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend, Christian Eriksen, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Nacer Chadli, Jan Verthonghen, Danny Rose, Kyle Naughton, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sandro, Vlad Chiriches, Nabil Bentaleb, Jermain Defoe, Lewis Holtby, Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue, Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, Ezekial Fryers, Milos Veljkovic, Alex Pritchard & Brad Friedel.
This season, Man United’s first-team squad is as follows:
David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Lee Grant, Jesse Lingard, Marcos Rojo, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Sergio Romero, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Odion Ighalo, Dean Henderson, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Nemanja Matic, Brandon Williams, Donny van de Beek, Axel Tuanzebe, Scott McTominay & Teden Mengi.
There are some parallels between the two squads, but the United side undoubtedly has more star power. At the time of Pochettino’s arrival, Kane had not truly made an impact yet, while Eriksen had recorded eight-goal contributions in his first season with Spurs, after moving from Ajax.
Meanwhile, big names are scattered throughout the United squad, with the likes of Pogba, Fernandes and Cavani having shown that they can perform at the very top level.
However, there is one big similarity, which is that the midfield is a puzzle waiting to be solved. Pochettino had talented middle-men at Spurs, but there were questions around how to form a cohesive unit out of them – the very same dilemma is presenting itself at Old Trafford now.
There was a net spend of just £4million during Pochettino’s first summer under Daniel Levy, as £43million was spent on new players, while £39m was recouped from sales.
Sigurdsson, Sandro, Livermore, Naughton, Dawson and Fryers were the Spurs players to be sold.
Ben Davies was the most expensive signing made, costing £11million. He was joined by Federico Fazio, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, DeAndre Yedlin and Michel Vorm, who all arrived for modest fees.
The indication is that there would be a lot more spending power afforded to him at United, who spent £75.15m while getting just £13.5million back – giving a net spend of £61.65million.
Van de Beek joining from Ajax for £35.1million was the biggest signing made, while Telles came in from Porto for a fee of £13.5m million and Cavani came for free after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain came to an end. In addition, Ighalo was brought in on loan from Shanghai Shenhua again.
There was also investment in youth, with teenagers Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo joining from Penarol and Atalanta respectively for a combined £26.55million – the latter of the two will be joining in January.
The sale of Chris Smalling to Roma makes up all of the £13.5m earned, while Alexis Sanchez joined Inter Milan for free. Tahith Chong, Joel Pereira, Andreas Pereira and Diogo Dalot all went out on loan.
Pochettino enhanced his reputation for bringing through youngsters at Spurs. Kane was the biggest beneficiary of that, as, at 21 years old, he had not done anything significant during his loan spells. He got a total of 31 league goals, 21 of which came in the league, during his first campaign under Pochettino – the current England captain hasn’t let up since.
There was also young talent recruited, as Davies and Dier were 21 and 20 respectively when they walked through the doors at White Hart Lane during the summer. Alli was just 18 when he was signed from MK Dons during the winter window, before being loaned back for the remainder of the season.
United is known for its big names, but there are also plenty of young talents that Pochettino would be able to nurture. Notably, Henderson and McTominay are 23, Rashford and Wan-Bissaka are still 22, and Greenwood is only 19.
There is also plenty of room for development among some of their signings, as Van de Beek is 23, Pellistri is 18 and Traore will still be 18 when he joins in January.
What happened next
Pochettino didn’t quite have the opening season he would have liked at Spurs, as he missed out on the top four and lost against Chelsea in the League Cup final.
However, he went on to strengthen his name as a manager, helping the likes of Kane, Eriksen, Son, Alli, Alderweireld and Rose become one of the best in their position in the Premier League during his reign.
There was also relative success as a collective, with Spurs finishing in the top four in four consecutive seasons, having only done so twice in the Premier League era before Pochettino’s arrival. His one big shortfall is that he couldn’t deliver a trophy, but their run to the Champions League final – before losing 1-0 to Liverpool – has gone down in Spurs folklore.
This is arguably the one big difference between Spurs and United. The Red Devils have a long history of winning trophies, especially under Sir Alex Ferguson, so the Argentine would be expected to bring in silverware on top of developing players – even though they haven’t won anything since the League Cup and Europa League double in 2016-17.
However, it is far too early in the season for irreparable damage to have been done in terms of results, while there is enough young and exciting talent at United for Pochettino to do what he does best.