Pochettino still prime candidate to replace Solskjaer at Man Utd AND Guardiola at Man City – he'll wait for his chance

HE has been waiting for almost a year now, Mauricio Pochettino.

The middle of November will mark the anniversary of the Argentine’s sacking by Tottenham.

And 12 months of inactivity is a long time for such a workaholic, football-obsessive.

We are not quite into Alan Curbishley territory yet, where he becomes an 11-2 shot for every Premier League vacancy, without ever taking another managerial job.

For now, Pochettino remains the king across the water for every major club contemplating a change in the dugout.

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A 48-year-old, who has never lifted a major trophy as a manager, yet whose work in establishing  Tottenham as Champions League regulars, marks him out as a rarity.

A boss capable of turning good players into greats and transforming a club without massive spending.

Pochettino is playing it cute,  keeping his head down at his family homes in north London and  Barcelona, shunning TV punditry and saying little on the record.

And with the restrictions of behind-closed-doors football, it is impossible for Pochettino to join the old vulture culture of out-of-work bosses turning up at a match where a manager appears to be a dead man walking.

So he waits. That’s what he does. Tick follows tock follows tick follows tock. With perhaps the occasional scan of Rightmove to check out high-end properties in the Manchester commuter belt.

Because after the collapse of  the Saudi takeover of Newcastle, which was certainly of interest to Pochettino, Manchester is still his most likely destination.

Pochettino has been a future United boss for years now, ever since he and his assistant Jesus Perez had a long Mayfair lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson during the dying days of Louis van Gaal’s  tenure in 2016.

Whenever Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign has veered wildly from a long unbeaten streak into a severe slump, Pochettino has been regarded as the heir apparent.

Yet the intrigue comes from City where Pep Guardiola is increasingly tired and tetchy, in the final year of his  contract, with many believing his appetite for the job is waning.

Both Manchester clubs finished last season with European defeats which failed to lift their overall campaigns above mediocrity.

And all three Premier League matches played in Manchester this term have ended in heavy and humiliating home defeats.

Now, United do not want to sack Solskjaer  — the Glazers’ man, Ed Woodward, is almost painfully keen for the Norwegian to succeed, despite his lack of previous top-level credentials and his failure to reach a cup final or challenge for the title.

And City’s management team, all personal chums of Guardiola, certainly don’t want to see the back of their man.

Even though four successive failed Champions League campaigns would have threatened the future of any other manager at an elite club.

Whenever Guardiola does leave — and that will always be the Catalan’s own choice — Pochettino is clearly a prime candidate.

Having made such a  promising start at such a grand club as Arsenal, Guardiola’s No 2 Mikel Arteta is unlikely to jump ship.

While it would be costly and difficult to pursue him or any other manager in  top-level employment.

Hiring Pochettino, meanwhile, comes without strife or  compensation. His spell of gardening leave expired in June. The lawns are spruce, the roses pruned.

As Pochettino has stated, in a rare interview since his Spurs exit, choosing the right job is never easy.

When the call comes, how to  evaluate whether the time is right, whether a better opportunity may  be on the horizon, whether a club  is genuinely willing to offer you enough power and resources to succeed.

Even if City and United both continue to struggle, it is highly  unlikely Guardiola and Solskjaer will vacate the stage at the same time.

Yet surreptitious calls, via agents  or intermediaries, would doubtless  be made by United if City had a managerial vacancy or vice versa.

If City came calling, Pochettino would be tempted. Who wouldn’t when resources are so vast and  talent so rich?

Winning the Champions League remains an unconquered frontier for City, too.

But the challenge said to excite Pochettino most is the idea of restoring United to the glories of his old lunching partner Ferguson.

The chance to rebuild a great club, not just fine-tune a team,  with a proper modern managerial structure. Perhaps hiring his old chum Paul Mitchell — lately of Spurs and RB Leipzig and now at Monaco — as a proper director of football.

A couple of the right signings, rather than big-name showbiz recruits, and the nurturing of young talent, through the hard graft and dedication he advocates, and United could prove Pochettino’s dream job.

It sure beats a final mow of  the lawn before winter sets in and perhaps a call to catch up with old Curbs, before Countdown starts.

But until the call comes,  Pochettino will keep schtum and wait. That’s what he does.

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