Pochettino is proven in the Premier League, but also proven to have failed to win the title when in a two-horse race with Leicester.
Proven to have been unable to arrest Tottenham’s alarming slide that ultimately cost him his job. That is, of course, a very simplistic assessment of his time in England.
He was also proven to have handled his transition to this country by turning Southampton into one of the most watchable teams in the top-flight.
Proven to have nurtured individual talents at Spurs, regularly competing at the top of the table and reaching the Champions League Final in 2019 – famously at the expense of Ten Hag’s Ajax. If he lasts the course at Paris Saint-Germain this season, he will be a title-winner.
Yet Ten Hag has emerged from a series of talks as the man United want to lead them into a new era. And for all the due diligence of football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher, perhaps it is the mystery surrounding the Dutchman that gives him the edge.
United cannot know if he will be able to adapt to the Premier League after a career spent in the Netherlands and Germany. They cannot know if he can handle a club of such stature that even managerial heavyweights like Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho were swallowed up by the expectation.
They cannot know how he will cope with the egos in a dressing room full of fabulously wealthy young men, nor how those players will react to him.
He is not the safe option, yet feels like the populist one, given the clamour on social media to declare him the next big thing. That is what new chief executive Richard Arnold is banking on.
His predecessor Ed Woodward spent the majority of his reign regretting his failure to lure Klopp to United, with his ‘adult Disneyland’ pitch now becoming the stuff of legend.
He watched the German do to Liverpool what a succession of managers failed to replicate at Old Trafford, waking them from their slumber and turning them into a super power.
Even now, Klopp is the most perfect choice for United in terms of personality, leadership and his brand of football. More so even than Pep Guardiola.
Klopp just gets it – and, the uncomfortable truth is that he probably got precisely what United were when rejecting Woodward’s advances.
Can Ten Hag be Klopp mark two? That is the bet being made by Arnold, Murtough and Fletcher. For a start, the football is right.
It is about risk, relentless attacking and bravery on the ball. It is proactive in the form of a Klopp or a Guardiola, rather than reactive like a Mourinho.
It is of the school of dominating possession – as would be expected of a Dutchman – but not the type of risk-averse fare that so turned United fans off during Van Gaal’s reign.
Ten Hag gives freedom to his most exciting talents to showcase their skills. Jadon Sancho should be a big beneficiary and Marcus Rashford may rediscover himself under a coach who will nurture his attacking qualities, which have been lost over the past 18 months.
Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek are two players who have failed to replicate the form they showed under Ten Hag since leaving Ajax. Van de Beek will welcome his arrival at Old Trafford after being bafflingly under-used since joining United.
Ten Hag has taken the fans along with him on his Ajax journey and United are in need of a ringmaster at Old Trafford who they can truly get behind.
Their fans are good at supporting their managers, even if they have been tested by the thin gruel offered up post-Sir Alex Ferguson.
Van Gaal and Mourinho tried to re-educate them in what they should expect as supporters of the biggest club in the land.
Neither could put up particularly convincing arguments – Mourinho snarling, and Van Gaal just never quite getting the sense of jeopardy that keeps them coming back to Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did – and arguably provided supporters with more memorable moments than those two predecessors combined – but did not possess the coaching or managerial qualities to deliver trophies.
Ten Hag is a proven winner in the Netherlands, but that record comes with a ‘but’ for that very reason. Ajax are the biggest and the richest, so success comes hand in hand. That is why that Champions League run is so instructive.
The irony, of course, is that Pochettino’s Tottenham reached the final at Ajax’s expense. What is the greater achievement?
Pochettino plays progressive, aggressive football. Ask Spurs fans if he has the charisma to make people follow him.
It is hard to think of a box Ten Hag ticks that the Argentine does not. Well, that is, all except one – the element of the unknown.
Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms
His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.
The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.
After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.
Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.
“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.
That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.
In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.
There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.
However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.
While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.
Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.
With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.
Reporter’s notebook: Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side showed encouraging signs at times but lack of points cost him his job | Football News
Jesse Marsch was approaching his one-year anniversary as Leeds United head coach before the decision was taken on Monday to relieve him of his duties.
The defeat to Nottingham Forest a day earlier had been the final straw for the Leeds board, who were all aligned in the view that a change was necessary after almost three months without a Premier League win.
The recent statistics paint a grim picture for Leeds. Seven Premier League games without a win and just two wins in the last 17 league games. And against Forest, although they dominated in the first half and created the better chances, a worrying pattern had started to develop which had become a huge concern for fans. Leeds were producing performances with lots of positives, but not enough points.
There is little doubt that a large proportion of the fan base had lost patience with Marsch, and they made their frustrations clear at the full-time whistle on Sunday with calls for a change of head coach.
What is very evident is that Leeds have not kicked on this season. At times there have been really promising signs, but the fans and the board at Leeds wanted more. Marsch will feel that with time he could have delivered more, but he was also realistic enough to know that he was walking a tightrope.
I got to know Jesse well during his 12 months at Elland Road and it was abundantly clear he cared passionately about the club. He understood what it meant to be head coach of Leeds United and what the club meant to the city and the fans. And he has to be given great credit for keeping Leeds in the Premier League last season.
Although it hasn’t worked out for Marsch this season, there is a strong argument to suggest that the next Leeds boss will be in a great position to move the club forward.
Patrick Bamford and Luis Sinisterra are now fit, and the January additions should make the starting line-up stronger. The club has also invested heavily in young players and one of those, Willy Gnonto, has emerged as one of the shining lights of the season.
Those factors have created an expectation that Leeds are better than their current league position, and that means a reluctance to accept another season fighting to avoid the drop. It also means that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The process of finding a replacement for Marsch is already underway and Leeds hope to make a swift appointment. A move for Marcelo Bielsa is highly unlikely, but West Brom boss Carlos Corberan, who worked under Bielsa, is a candidate, while Ange Postecoglou at Celtic has also been linked.
It is also worth noting Leeds have a track record of leftfield appointments, so as they work through their list of targets, there is a good chance that a candidate emerges that could surprise everybody.
In the meantime, Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will take training at Thorp Arch, and will be in the dugout for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
February 8: Manchester United (A) – kick-off 8pm
February 12: Manchester United (H) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
February 18: Everton (A) – kick-off 3pm
February 25: Southampton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 4: Chelsea (A) – kick-off 3pm
March 11: Brighton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 18: Wolves (A) – kick-off 3pm
Tom Brady in his underwear is taking over Twitter
It’s Super Bowl week, and if you thought Tom Brady was going to let this week go by without being all up in your timeline…well. Just a week after announcing he’s retiring from football (you’ll never convince me he didn’t play an extra year just to stick it to Adam Schefter), Tom Brady has dropped his first thirst trap on Twitter. Or, attempted thirst trap. Actually, IS this a thirst trap?
As will many things Tom Brady, the attempt to be cool and edgy just winds up being sterile, boring, and kinda sad. A beige man in a beige room in beige underwear with a “pleass clap” look on his face.
And because OF COURSE:
Yes, Tom. We all knew the plug as coming. I’m not sure what color “heather crimson” is supposed to be, but I believe this is what we used to call “puce,” which… meh. The fact that there is something called the “Brady Boxer Brief” is enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven, because you know there are guys in New England burning up the internet right now to wear the same undies as their hero. And even more so because no amount of refusing to mask during COVID, vouching for Antonio Brown, stumping for Donald Trump, or getting a PPP loan during a nationwide pandemic is enough to get people to stop buying what this guy is selling. He’s even gotten to Jane Fonda, for crying out loud.
Of course, this entire thing was set up by Brady’s own brand:
So…whatever. It’s Super Bowl week and everyone is talking about Tom Brady, which is exactly how he wants it to be.
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