Mauricio Pochettino to Man Utd rumours continue to swirl but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets a much-needed break

James Robson
Manchester United via Getty Imag

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed that. Because while the ghost of Jose Mourinho was laid to rest for now —the spectre of Mauricio Pochettino continues to loom large over Old Trafford.

Manchester United’s 2-1 win against Tottenham eases the pressure on ­Solskjaer but with neighbours Manchester City next up on Saturday, his future could soon be plunged back into uncertainty.

Pochettino’s status as the most ­eligible bachelor in football management serves as a back drop to every move Solskjaer makes right now.

And the former Spurs ­manager’s decision to announce his desire to make a swift return to ­football, at the start of a make-or-break week for United’s boss, will not have helped Solskjaer.

Pochettino has powerful admirers within Old Trafford — and suggestions compensation will still be required to secure his ­services after his Spurs sacking will serve as little deterrent should Ed Woodward choose to act.

(Manchester United via Getty Imag)

United’s executive vice chairman was prepared to buy out ­Pochettino’s contract when the 47-year-old was initially installed as the No1 target to succeed Mourinho last year.

That was until Solskjaer’s spectacular results as interim coach compelled United to turn his position into a ­permanent one. And now he needs something similar to change the ­narrative and ensure his bosses are not tempted into moving for the easy fallback option.

For all the backing offered to ­Solskjaer during his troubled start to the season, there is an acceptance that results must start to improve.

Victory against Spurs — and ­United’s best display of the season — was ­perfectly timed. Now Solskjaer must build on the positivity of last night.

Key to that will be ­resolving his side’s split personality. If his players can dominate Spurs one week, how can they be held to draws by Sheffield United or Aston Villa the next?

The nature of the win against ­Mourinho has set a ­standard to be maintained — starting with the Manchester derby.

(AFP via Getty Images)

“There is no better game than the next one, a ­fantastic City team, a derby. The boys will be up for that one,” said Solskjaer. “City have 24 hours extra to recover and I’m happy I’ve got a young team — we’ll be ready.”

His players will need to be because ­memories of a hugely encouraging night will soon dissipate if Pep ­Guardiola’s side bring them back down to earth with a thump.

And even if Solskjaer insists his focus remains on the big picture, he needs results in the here and now.

“We’ve started the rebuilding,” he added. “We’ve made decisions we had to. When we win three or four games on the run, they will get that Man Utd feeling again.”

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