Meet ideal managerial successor to Jose Mourinho at Man U

Old Trafford's hierarchy have long-admired the Tottenham manager, who is seen as an ideal candidate to succeed Mourinho.

Meet ideal managerial successor to Jose Mourinho at Man U

Old Trafford's hierarchy have long-admired the Tottenham manager, who is seen as an ideal candidate to succeed Mourinho.

01 February 2018 Thursday 19:37
Meet ideal managerial successor to Jose Mourinho at Man U

Manchester United handed Jose Mourinho a new contract last week - but still have an eye on their long-term future.

Manchester United still consider Mauricio Pochettino a long-term managerial target, despite handing Jose Mourinho a contract extension last week.

Old Trafford's hierarchy have long-admired the Tottenham manager, who is seen as an ideal candidate to succeed Mourinho.

And the nature of Spurs' utterly dominant performance against United at Wembley on Wednesday will only have strengthened the belief within the club that the Argentine is one of the most impressive coaches in world football right now.

While there is no desire to hasten Mourinho's departure - the decision to tie up his future for a further year when only midway through is contract is evidence of that - the fact that Pochettino remains of interest points to the club's longer-term planning.

The appointments of Louis van Gaal and Mourinho had an element of panic about them.

Van Gaal represented a complete sea change in strategy after David Moyes was considered capable of building a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho, meanwhile, was brought in to jolt United back into life following the Dutchman's reign, with the appointment of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City also very much in mind.

Such has been the progress under Mourinho - two major trophies and on course for their highest Premier League finish since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement - executive vice chairman Ed Woodward moved quickly to end speculation over his future, with a new deal that takes him to 2020 with the option of a further year.

But it is notable that the extension was just for 12 extra months, when the expectation was that it would be for two years.

That gives United breathing room to consider their options and react, should Pochettino's situation alter at Spurs.

With Tottenham set to move into a new stadium next season, he is not expected to walk away yet.

If he does, Real Madrid are expected to be at the head of the queue - and the Spanish giants could even test the water this summer if Zinedine Zidane's troubles continue at the Bernabeu.

That would be too soon for United, who are committed to the Mourinho project and maintain faith he will deliver a first league title since 2013.

They are expected to back that up at the end of the season with further funding to allow him to build a squad capable of genuinely challenging Guardiola.

Should Pochettino make a move to Real as early as this summer, it is unlikely to cause much distress at Old Trafford.

Given the average lifespan of a manager at the Bernabeu, he could be back on the market by time Mourinho's contract expires in 2020.

Pochettino has earned enough admirers at Old Trafford - Ferguson included - to make him the standout candidate when they next look to recruit a manager.

Max Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti were seen as other potential options - but it is understood Pochettino is considered above all other contenders.

His ability to develop talent strikes a chord with the ethos of the club - and Spurs' high-intensity pressing game is seen as the modern face of football.

That was evident on Wednesday night, when Tottenham ran a jaded United ragged, with Harry Kane, Delli Alli, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies all examples of Pochettino's individual influence on players.

And despite the 2-0 win against United, Tottenham remain outside the top four in fifth place and five points adrift of Mourinho's team.

That justifies Woodward's decision to hand his manager a new deal and supports the belief they are heading towards their most prosperous period post Ferguson.

An ideal scenario would be for Mourinho to realise those ambitions over the next two years, before handing over the reins with the club in a positive position - which would be in stark contrast to United's last two managerial appointments.

Updated: 01.02.2018 19:53
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