Mauricio Pochettino Talks Premier League Return Amid Manchester United Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2020

LA PLATA, ARGENTINA - DECEMBER 08: Mauricio Pochettino former Tottenham Hostspur head coach looks on during a match between Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata and Central Cordoba as part of Superliga 2019/20 at Juan Carmelo Zeillo Stadium on December 8, 2019 in La Plata, Argentina. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Jam Media/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino is open to taking another job in the Premier League once he makes his return to the dugout following his dismissal from Tottenham Hotspur back in November. 

The Argentinian told Natalie Pinkman's In The Pink podcast (via Sky Sports): "To be honest, I would love to work in the Premier League. It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now, it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens."

Pochettino has declared his desire to return at a time when Manchester United, the club with which he has most often been linked, has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a vote of confidence.

Per Football.London's Tashan Deniran-Alleyne, at a fans' forum United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward discussed the club's recruitment strategy and plans to work with Solskjaer to bring in players:

"There has been no shortage of investment in players over the past few years, with over £200 million spent since Ole became manager. Our aim is to ensure that we continue to achieve consistency in quality of recruitment.

"The recruitment department is working to a clear plan and philosophy, along with Ole and his coaching staff.

"Our focus is on bringing in a combination of experience and the best young players with potential to develop further, fusing graduates from our academy with high-quality acquisitions."

As recently as late-January, Pochettino's name has been mentioned in connection with Solskjaer's job. The Daily Star's Jeremy Cross named the former Spurs boss, along with England's Gareth Southgate and RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann as the three names considered following a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley in the Premier League.

United have staged a recovery, though, since slipping up against the Clarets. Solskjaer's men are unbeaten in their last three in all competitions.

The Norwegian has been backed by the January purchase of industrious playmaker Bruno Fernandes during the January transfer window. He arrived from Sporting CP in a deal worth an initial £47 million, per BBC Sport.

SPORF @Sporf

🇵🇹 Bruno Fernandes for @Sporting_CP this season: 🏟 28 Games ⚽️ 15 Goals 🎯 14 Assists 🙌 Ole Gunnar Solskjær reveals he could be starting for @ManUtd sooner than everyone thinks. https://t.co/L9mR8xb33l

Fernandes' arrival follows the big-money signings of centre-back Harry Maguire and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The awesome outlay on these three players underlines United's commitment to equipping Solskjaer with everything he needs to return United to winning ways.

While the process is ongoing, Woodward hinting at keeping Solskjaer will raise further questions about Pochettino's next move. The 47-year-old, who worked at Southampton before moving to north London in 2014, defended his tenure at Spurs, despite his failure to win a trophy, telling Pinkman:

"To apply a new philosophy and new ideas was very tough but I feel very proud with the success that we had and to take Tottenham to a different level.

"To play in the Champions League for three or four years and finish above Arsenal many times was a great legacy for us. To win a title would be a great reward but for us that is the legacy, to have the club and the stadium at Tottenham. That is more than winning titles."

While silverware consistently eluded Pochettino, he earned plaudits for making Spurs more competitive at the top end of the table. He notably took the Lilywhites to second in the 2016/17 season and guided the club into a first UEFA Champions League final last season, a game Spurs lost 2-0 to Liverpool.

Squawka Football @Squawka

Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs manager: ⚪️ Most wins by a Spurs manager in post-war era (159) ⚪️ Four consecutive top four PL finishes ⚪️ First ever Champions League final Incredible achievements. 🙇‍♂️ https://t.co/34cP2bGuzx

Often operating on a limited budget, against the backdrop of a protracted move to a new stadium, Pochettino still produced memorable results. Spurs didn't sign a single player in the summer of 2018 nor the winter of 2019, but Pochettino kept together a squad loaded with bargain signings from previous years, including Dele Alli and Eric Dier.

The Argentinian can also be credited with helping accelerate the development of Harry Kane. Tottenham's No. 10 went from promising reserve to one of the most prolific strikers in the game on Pochettino's watch.

A resume like this makes it somewhat surprising Pochettino is still waiting for a new job. However, a clause in his Spurs contract would have required any English top-flight rival to pay a fee to hire Pochettino before the end of this campaign, according to Lloyd Johnson of the Daily Express.

Pochettino would also be forced to pay Tottenham £12.5 million to return to the division this season, per Johnson.

Pochettino has been linked with replacing Guardiola at City.
Pochettino has been linked with replacing Guardiola at City.OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

This clause won't be in place this summer, making the moment ripe for Premier League clubs to run the rule over one of the more highly regarded coaches in the game. Even so, the question remains who will hire Pochettino if United stand pat?

Arsenal appear ready to trust Mikel Arteta longterm. Pochettino has also previously cooled talk of him joining Spurs' derby rivals.

Chelsea are also trusting a former player, in the form of Frank Lampard. Meanwhile, Everton are tied in with proven winner Carlo Ancelotti, who has already made a positive impact.

Manchester City could be a possibility, after Pochettino was named as a potential replacement for Pep Guardiola in December. Guardiola is wanted by Serie A giants Juventus to replace Maurizio Sarri, according to Martin Lipton of The Sun.