The spectre of Mauricio Pochettino has hung over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the moment he was appointed Manchester United manager nearly two years ago.
At first, of course, the Norwegian was widely seen as a placeholder for the Argentine at Old Trafford, appointed interim manager to keep the seat warm for the man the club’s hierarchy really wanted.
A strong start to life as United manager saw Solskjaer handed the job on a permanent basis, but with every dip in form Pochettino’s name has come to the fore again.
This has certainly been the case recently, with Solskjaer under intense pressure following the Red Devils’ catastrophic 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
But how would Pochettino actually change the team on the pitch? The Argentine is a modern coach in the way he approaches the game, favouring dynamic football and the promotion of youth, but how would the side Pochettino would field as Manchester United boss differ from the side Solskjaer currently resides over?
Pochettino’s preferred formation, just like Solskjaer’s, is a 4-2-3-1 although the Argentine has previously used a 3-5-2 and a 4-3-1-2 over the course of his managerial career.
At Tottenham, Pochettino was tactically flexible, but his base systems are already familiar to the players he would inherit at Old Trafford.
Like Solskjaer, the Argentine also favours a high-energy approach, although his high press is more choreographed than anything directed by the Norwegian.
This is perhaps where the United players would experience the biggest difference on the training ground. This is where Pochettino focuses much of his coaching.
Another one of the biggest differences between Solskjaer’s United and the team Pochettino would likely build at Old Trafford would come in the full-back positions.
While the former is comfortable with two full-backs who focus on the defensive side of the game, the latter likes to use wing-backs who bring more in an attacking sense.
At least United now have Alex Telles on the left who would be of use to Pochettino, but the options on the right are somewhat sparser, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka generally ineffective as an attacking outlet.
As a by-product of using the full-backs for width, Pochettino likes his wide attackers to cut inside rather than burst to the byline and get crosses into the box.
This is another area in which Manchester United’s squad would appear to be equipped for the Argentine, with Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford all of this mould. Even fringe players like Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata play in this way.
Get the latest transfer news straight into your inbox!
Want to be on the ball with all of the latest football news?
Well then sign up for the brilliant new Daily Star Sport email newsletter!
From the latest transfer news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox.
How do you sign up?
It only takes a matter of seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article and hit 'subscribe'.
And that's it, job done. You'll receive an email with all of the top news stories every single morning.
You can find out more information on our email newsletter on this link here.
Arguably the greatest success of Solskjaer’s time as United boss has come in his forging of an interchangeable, fluid frontline – and this is something Pochettino could utilise.
At Spurs, he would ask Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to make surging runs past the centre-forward to provide goal threat from deep. Bruno Fernandes already does this to great effect for the Red Devils, with Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek also known for their late runs into attacking areas.
While Romelu Lukaku would have been a poor fit for Pochettino’s system, Martial and Rashford would be well equipped to drop deep and engage in intricate build-up play that either sees United pass through opposition defences or create space for runners to burst into. It’s a role Martial already performs well for United.
Fred might benefit more than most in the event of Pochettino’s appointment. The Argentine coach likes to play a press-breaking midfielder at the base of his central unit who can hold the ball up, start attacking moves from deep and cover the pitch from left to right to provide protection for the attacking full-backs.
This is a role the Brazilian could perform for Pochettino, and so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Fred become a more regular figure in the United midfield should a managerial change be made.
However, alongside Fred Pochettino would likely want another structural midfielder to anchor the attackers higher up the pitch. Is this a role Pogba would be happy to do?
Had Pochettino taken over from Mourinho, it’s likely Manchester United would have suffered some growing pains under their new manager.
But Solskjaer’s methods aren’t too different to that of the Argentine’s and so the Norwegian might have prepared the ground for new seeds to be planted by someone different in the dugout.
Source: Read Full Article