Mauricio Pochettino has plenty to prove before getting the long-term Man Utd gig

Showing he can handle Paris Saint-Germain’s superstars would tell the United board that Pochettino is the right man to take the club forward and challenge for major honours again

Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay nowMauricio Pochettino discusses Manchester United jobopinionByAndy Dunn

  • 08:00, 26 Nov 2021
  • Updated08:16, 26 Nov 2021
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As Thierry Henry listened to Jamie Carragher explaining why Mauricio Pochettino should get out of Paris St Germain “because of those three stars”, he could not help but smile.

Not necessarily through amused disagreement but probably through a realisation of how fundamentally absurd it sounds.

Because let’s face it, on the list of reasons a manager should leave a football club, having Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar at your disposal would be an unlikely contender at the top of the pile.

Carragher was in a large majority in decrying the defensive efforts of ‘those three stars’.

In fact, criticism of their work-rate was pretty unanimous.

Jamie Carragher said that Pochettino should get out of Paris St Germain "because of those three stars"

Even Henry joined in and, for all his brilliance and majesty, Thierry was hardly a striker renowned for his lung-emptying graft.

Thankfully for Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles, there were plenty of team-mates who were.

There were some mitigating circumstances for Mbappe, Messi and Neymar, not least that, after it became clear RB Leipzig were going to hammer Bruges (half-time, at the latest, one assumes), the game at the Etihad was a glorified exhibition match.

But that was still no excuse for the decorated trio to treat it as one, obviously.

So, presuming Pochettino is still in Paris come the knockout stages of the Champions League, let’s see how he deals with it.

Kylian Mbappe put PSG ahead at the Etihad on Wednesday but, along with Neymar and Lionel Messi, was criticised for his attitude
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Action images via Reuters)

Let’s see if Pochettino has the sort of resolve, the sort of ruthlessness that will confirm him as a great choice as the next, permanent Manchester United manager.

Surely, for his own professional pride, Pochettino cannot walk out of a job because he cannot get three of the world’s best players to put a shift in?

Pochettino’s suitability for the United post is taken as read in a lot of quarters.

He did a very good job with Southampton and Spurs, and clearly enjoys the intensity of the Premier League.

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His relaxed demeanour after the defeat at the Etihad probably reflected an 11-point lead in the domestic championship, a place in the Champions League knockout stages and the knowledge that he can probably walk into the Old Trafford job for next season.

His reputation, rather than his trophies, sees to that.

He is clearly a smashing coach, a lovely character, a highly-regarded operator and was superb for Spurs.

Yet rarely can a coach with so few baubles have been so lauded.

Ralf Rangnick will sign a six-month deal to be Manchester United's interim manager but Mauricio Pochettino is favourite to be the next permanent boss
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Bongarts/Getty Images)

United have probably made up their minds and – who knows? – maybe a deal is done.

But when Ralf Rangnick’s six-month contract comes to an end, there will be other options.

Wednesday night’s game was no audition for Pochettino, just as the win over City in Paris back in late September was no audition.

But never mind the holy trinity’s heat maps, Pochettino is in charge of a squad that should be reaching the last four of the Champions League … minimum.

Look at the PSG bench at the Etihad. Donnarumma, Ramos, Veratti, Icardi, Di Maria, Danilo, Wijnaldum, etc, etc.

Mauricio Pochettino has the sort of squad that should mean PSG are a truly formidable Champions League force
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Getty Images)

This is why United should not be too hasty over anointing Pochettino as the long-term appointment to follow Rangnick.

At Paris St Germain, Pochettino has been given the chance to prove himself a truly elite manager.

Let’s see if Pochettino can kick some butt and make PSG the formidable force they should be in this season’s Champions League.

And then, we will know, for sure, if he is the right long-term option for Manchester United.

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