Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Pep Guardiola gives top Manchester United boss target vote of confidence

Pep Guardiola gives up thumbs up during Manchester City vs Everton, November 2021

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has given prospective new Manchester United boss Mauricio Pochettino a huge vote of confidence.

City’s cross-city rivals United are looking for their fifth manager since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the boot on Sunday. Poor form and results meant that Solskjaer was unable to see out his three-year anniversary at the helm.

With Michael Carrick in temporary charge, United are on the hunt for a long-term replacement. And former Spurs boss Pochettino is on their target list.

In fact “he is Manchester United’s first choice to take over permanently from the Norwegian”, report Sky Sports. And the feeling is mutual, because the PSG boss is also interested in succeeding Solskjaer.

The Daily Record reports that United have begun discussions about buying out his contract. And a compensation figure of £8.4m has been placed on Pochettino, report Sky.

Guardiola comes up against the former Tottenham boss on Wednesday. And he believes the Argentinian is an elite manager despite having no silverware to show for his efforts.

Guardiola said: “You can be a top manager and not win titles. The managers that have the chance to win the titles are at top, top clubs with good investments and exceptional players. Otherwise, for a manager, it is impossible to win.

Mauricio Pochettino, former Tottenham manager, during a Premier League game at Old Trafford

“That doesn’t mean the managers in the Championship or not in the top six of the Premier League cannot be excellent managers in tactics, communication, leading. It’s not necessary to win titles.”

Pochettino, 49, did not win a trophy in his five years at Spurs and he missed out on both Ligue 1 and the Champions League after taking over at PSG in January.

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He could change that this season with his side 11 points clear in the French title race and Guardiola feels he is a better manager than in the past.



Pochettino has good record vs Guardiola

He said: “I’m pretty sure the managers get better. Every season we go through you have a lot of learnings and I’m pretty sure he’s an excellent manager.”

Pochettino has a good record against Guardiola having been the first manager to beat his City side in 2016 and edged them out in the Champions League quarter-finals of 2019.

PSG then beat City 2-0 at the Parc des Princes in September.

Group A has since turned round with City now in top spot and needing only a point from their second meeting to secure their place in the last 16 for a ninth successive year.

Guardiola insists his past meetings with Pochettino will have no bearing on this latest clash.

He said: “It’s completely different – different countries, players, shapes. Even with the same manager and same team from one year it can be different – new players, many things can happen.

“The situation is different, completely different to Tottenham when he was there.”

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is confident City can get the better of Pochettino this time.

Gundogan, speaking alongside Guardiola at a press conference, said: “Unfortunately he was able to beat us in the past quite regularly. But I think, in the modern game, all teams have started to know each other quite well.

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“For us it is more the approach of the game, how we keep possession and create chances. I have no doubts we can do that in the best possible way.

“I have no doubts we will be able to play a good game and get the points.”

United’s troubles this season have also brought scrutiny on the club’s off-field operation.

City’s structure by contrast is proving highly successful with Guardiola thriving alongside director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Guardiola said: “He’s exceptional. He is always there. Without him I would not be here and he showed me especially in the bad moments who he is.

“Man City is incredibly lucky to have this person. I see many things behind the scenes and know exactly what he is doing for the club.”

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