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Manchester United shouldn’t turn their noses up at the potential alternative to Pochettino and Ten Hag – Daniel Murphy


The pool is shallow, but Manchester United still have to dive headfirst.

United are now on the lookout for their next permanent manager but it’s a slim pick at the moment, certainly in terms of quality non-club tied and freely available managers.

Years of the club missing out on opportunities when they’re begging to be grabbed have left them in that precarious position.

In an age of football when an elite manager must succeed, United willfully bury their heads in the sand and instead spead flimsy platitudes about the club’s DNA and spirit.

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While they continued to persevere with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, chances to hire Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte all passed them by. If United had the same ruthless streak Liverpool did when they sacked Brendan Rodgers to bring in Jurgen Klopp, they might be sitting with one of the best managers in the world right now.

Instead, they stutter with a renowned coach and football innovator, although one who has only managed one top season in the last decade doesn’t have much time to implement his ideas and is therefore struggling, temporarily.

United are now in a position where their top managerial candidates are already hired and could prove difficult to get rid of.

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MEN Sport understand the club could appoint their next permanent boss before the end of the season, with developments taking place in the hiring process.

The fact that the current leaders – Pochettino and Erik ten Hag – and eligible Brendan Rodgers are all otherwise busy at the moment complicates matters.

Paris Saint-Germain could be happy if they fail again in the Champions League but are otherwise headed for another Ligue 1 title as Pochettino has started to grapple with his wealth of attacking talent. They have little reason to sack him unless Zinedine Zidane makes it clear he wants the job.

Ten Hag has hinted he might be up for a bigger challenge but is a chalice like United an attractive option when he’s doing so well in Amsterdam? He has been given the patience to build two excellent teams and has achieved great success at club. In any case, with his contract only expiring in 2023, United still have to make it worthwhile for Ajax to let him go this year.

Finally, Rodgers doesn’t even look like a contender anymore. His Leicester side have struggled since the possibility of him taking over Old Trafford was first touted last year and his record in Europe certainly doesn’t make him an attractive option.

So what can they do if United can’t win any of their top contenders? Well, another manager in employment could be an interesting alternative.

Many raised eyebrows when Brighton sacked Chris Hughton to hire Graham Potter, a manager who had made a name for himself in Sweden and managed just 51 games at Swansea City.

But it turned out to be a masterpiece. In Potter’s two-and-a-half seasons in charge, he has transformed Brighton from a plucky Premier League newcomer struggling to stay afloat into one of the league’s best football teams. They are currently ninth in the table, with a possible Europa League spot and only one reliable goalscorer has prevented them from seriously contending for the top four.

This season alone they have twice drawn Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, all games they could have won as they continue to fight well above their weight.

Graham Potter did a great job at Brighton

Potter has also done this without spending huge purses. The most he has spent on a player is £20m on Adam Webster and Neal Maupay, while Leandro Trossard has cost £18m. Every other signing has netted less than £10m and they have tended to be young players with lots of potential who he then went on to develop.

It’s clear that Potter is destined for bigger and better things, his trajectory is only one-way. He is an exciting coach who plays attractive football, can keep up with the best clubs despite a clearly inferior squad, who makes players better and, given the stature of his club, would be much more accessible than the other candidates. What more could United want?

Potter might not be the biggest name but United’s incompetence in recent years means these big names will be difficult to catch. But he is still an excellent manager and One United cannot turn their noses up at him.

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