Pochettino’s next move pivotal in career
During an era in which Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are redefining what it takes to succeed at the top of the game, it is hard for any other manager to make an impact.
Antonio Conte, Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann are probably in the tier of coaches below the Manchester City and Liverpool managers, while the world awaits the arrival of Erik Ten Hag at Manchester United.
While all are talented names who have proven capable of winning league titles and in – some cases – delivering European success, it has been almost impossible for anyone to keep up with Klopp and Guardiola.
So then, what of Mauricio Pochettino?
The man to have turned the previously unstable Tottenham into a force capable of challenging for both the Premier League and the Champions League, the Argentine’s stock has dropped in recent months.
Handed a star-studded team by the bosses at the basket-case Paris Saint-Germain, Pochettino’s failure to convince in European competition has seen him overlooked for the United job as his days in the French capital come to an end.
Pochettino, who values developing young players into a dynamic system, rarely seemed a good fit for PSG and his next move is fascinating in the landscape of European football.
A return to Tottenham has been mooted given Conte’s links with PSG, which could potentially see them rise back up the Premier League at a time in which both United and Chelsea are going through huge transitions.
That, though, is probably the least interesting move the 50-year-old could make.
Bayern Munich, for example, are set for a transitional period of their own with so many key players soon to be out of contract, and Nagelsmann could come under huge pressure after his own performance in the Champions League.
While Bayern are undoubtedly a commercial powerhouse, the lack of foreign ownership in German football naturally means they cannot compete with state-backed clubs on the continent, meaning they will have to be greater than the sum of their parts on the European stage.
In so many ways, Pochettino looks perfect for that kind of challenge. The same goes at Borussia Dortmund, whose focus on youth is legendary.
In Spain, both Madrid clubs could be potential landing spots. Diego Simeone’s Atletico tenure is surely coming to a close and the hard work Pochettino is famed for seems a natural fit. At Real, Carlo Ancelotti only ever appears one bad result away from the sack.
Italy, meanwhile, looks less appealing but Juventus have frequently been linked with the former Southampton manager and the financial disparity between themselves and the Premier League clubs could again work in Pochettino’s favour.
Even in England, where Chelsea go next is up for debate and they boast the kind of academy the former Spurs chief could surely work well with, should their spending power cede in a post-Roman Abramovich era.
Over the last few years, most of the top coaches around the world have found themselves working in England, with Pochettino competing even despite a comparative lack of funds.
Given the chance to do so in other leagues at clubs not run in the circus-like manner PSG are and perhaps the complexion of European football can change, even if only slightly so.
Indeed, Atletico or Dortmund could become real players under his watch, as well as the likes of Napoli and even Marseille, although Pochettino’s PSG past would likely make him hugely unpopular there.
A manager who has so often seemed right for Manchester United now must decide on his next move. In an era dominated by the usual suspects, the right choice could prove transformative.