Why Pochettino should leave Spurs, go to Man United

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This seems like the debate we are going to be having often between now and the summer: should Mauricio Pochettino stay or go?

Sorry to be the Grinch on Christmas Eve, Spurs fans, but all the signs are pointing towards Pochettino leaving Tottenham this summer.

Pochettino only signed a new contract with Spurs in the summer to commit himself to the north London club as they’re finally set to move into their new stadium in the next few months. But that doesn’t mean their period of austerity is over, but it certainly signals a new era Spurs want Pochettino to lead them into. It will not be as simple as that.

Yet with both Manchester United and Real Madrid said to favor him as their next permanent manager, the bidding war for Pochettino has likely already begun behind closed doors and Daniel Levy will not be having a peaceful festive period.

Does Pochettino stay at Spurs and finish his project with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and the fine squad he has assembled and continue to grind every ounce of effort and talent out of them?

Or does he head to one of the biggest clubs on the planet in Man United where he will get the chance to truly redesign the way they play and what goes on behind-the-scenes to suit him best?

This may be one of the toughest decisions any manager has ever had to make, as the potential Spurs have is clear. If Poch goes, it is likely Kane, Alli and Co. follow him out of the door and the entire project will need to start again. His stock has never been higher and Pochettino may never be able to better what he’s doing at Spurs right now. They have hit their ceiling.

Pochettino has worked wonders over the past four years with them, turning young talent into world-class players and after their 6-2 shellacking of Everton, he has Spurs six points off the top of the PL table, in the UEFA Champions League last 16 and League Cup semifinals. All of that while not signing a single player over the summer and having to deal with the issues surrounding the stadium move and hanging out at Wembley a little longer.

The only reason Poch wouldn’t head to United is if he won either the PL or Champions League trophy at Spurs. How could he leave then? His players put on a show at Everton and are perhaps fighting not only for their own futures but also for that of their club. They want to show their boss they can reach another level and they know Pochettino is that important to Tottenham’s trajectory in the coming years.

But if he heads to United, he will be given large amounts of cash to spend on new players, something he has never had at Southampton or Tottenham in the Premier League, and he will be able to take his talents to the ‘next level’ per se, in terms of resources.

He has always been ambitious and his drive to be the best with a clear philosophy of using young players and playing a high-pressing game has inspired plenty of other PL clubs to follow suit in hiring managers with similar traits. Pochettino said very little for months when he left Southampton to join Tottenham, and he will be the same as he is asked about heading to United in the coming months.

But is the grass always greener? That is what Pochettino has to decide.

He was correct in deciding to leave Southampton for Tottenham in 2014, but the gulf in the size and resources of those clubs was clear. Can that be said for the gap between Tottenham and United? Spurs are a club on the up in so many ways, while United are stagnant after the failed tenures of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. But a sizeable jolt in the right direction would wake them up in a big way and it is likely the entire United hierarchy understands they’ve messed up big time in recent years.

That plays perfectly into Pochettino’s hands and he will get the power he demands, while his former head of recruitment at Southampton and Spurs, Paul Mitchell, is rumored to be heading to United in the overhaul of their football operations.

Of course, United could stick with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer permanently if he works wonders between now and the end of his caretaker role in May. But we have to be honest, the whole reason United hired a caretaker manager in the first place is because Pochettino wasn’t going to be able to, and didn’t want to, leave Spurs midseason.

Right now, for him and his staff, this decision will probably be the toughest Pochettino has ever had to make.

But this all comes down to one thing: ambition. And Pochettino has plenty of it.

Pochettino should continue the trajectory of his career and move to United to become a hero at Old Trafford. As harsh as that sounds, that is the next step in his career and it seems like it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity he cannot turn down.

Merry Christmas, Spurs fans…

Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny to have offseason knee surgery

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Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will undergo knee surgery this offseason, but he will be available for the final match of the season against Sampdoria, manager Massimiliano Allegri confirmed on Saturday.

The Polish international has been the first-choice goalkeeper for much of the year for Juve, but has occasionally ceded time to 26-year-old Mattia Perin.

Allegri said that Szczesny will need “keyhole surgery,” likely another term for an arthroscopy, lending belief that he is either struggling with a torn meniscus or just generally needs his knee cleaned out. Given that speculation, it’s unlikely the surgery will cause him to miss any time at the start of next season. The 29-year-old has been a warrior for most of his career, staying clear of serious injuries throughout his time with both Arsenal and Juventus.

Juve has already confirmed its ninth straight Serie A title, but the club has limped down the stretch of the season, without a win over its last four matches. Prior to the late-season slide, Szczesny had been the goalkeeper to secure the best results, with Perin between the sticks for both of Juve’s two losses on the year and Szczesny dropping just four points all season, but the Polish international has been the one in goal for the four-game slide that includes three draws and a loss.

Allegri also announced that Cristiano Ronaldo will be held out of the season finale on Sunday and will not make the trip with the squad for the road game, instead resting for international duty this summer. “It is right for others to play now,” Allegri said.

“After that, we can all go to the beach, I’ve been told to put sun cream on my head. Now let’s go for a drink,” Allegri said, joking about his extremely short hair to end the press conference.

PSG extends manager Thomas Tuchel through 2021

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No wonder Thomas Tuchel was in such a jovial mood regarding his job security yesterday.

Paris Saint-Germain announced on Saturday that it has handed manager Thomas Tuchel a one-year contract extension, pushing the expiration of his contract to the summer of 2021. The addition extends his initial two-year deal he signed last summer when he joined the club after leaving Borussia Dortmund.

The news is somewhat surprising given that Tuchel had come under fire for PSG’s struggles down the stretch of the season, first with the club’s elimination from the Champions League in the Round of 16, and then for the failures down the stretch of the domestic campaign. It took weeks to formally clinch the league title as the team skidded through April, and the club fell to Stade Rennes in the final of the Coupe de France. Still, according to a number of reports, the deal was signed back in March making the end to the season irrelevant.

The German boss was able to joke about his future after PSG’s season-ending defeat to Stade de Reims on Friday, laughing at reporters who asked about his job security heading into the summer, “Honestly, I am worried… I get the impression that everybody knows something that I do not!”

Less than 24 hours later, news of his extension was official. “The entire Paris Saint-Germain family is delighted to see Thomas Tuchel extend his contract ,” said PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi. “For a year now, Thomas has been bringing fantastic energy every day, not only to players, but to the entire club.”

Ultimately, PSG won the Ligue 1 crown handily, ending the season with a 16-point cushion. The first half of the season was an unmitigated success, starting the league season on a 14-match winning streak and not suffering a single loss until early February. They also performed well in the Champions League, losing just once in a very difficult Group C that featured Liverpool, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade. The costly slip came against Manchester United where they fell 3-1 in the second leg at home despite a 2-1 first-leg advantage.

Tuchel’s extension also comes with its head-scratchers, as the German was critical of club hierarchy after Friday’s defeat. He hit out at the front office for allowing Neymar to leave the club early to join up with the Brazilian national team, with the 27-year-old suspended for the final match of the year. “No, Neymar has not been released,” Tuchel said when asked about Neymar’s absence from the squad. “In any case, he has not by me. It is not a sporting thing, so I do not know. You will have to ask the club.”

“Correct, this season has had its problems,” Tuchel continued later. “The goal moving forward has to be to stay more focused. That goes for the team, as well as the club. We must be stricter and pull in the same direction to achieve our goals.”

RSL’s Savarino downs Atlanta United in 94th minute

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Atlanta United dropped its second straight match, this time in gut-wrenching fashion, as Jefferson Savarino scored a 94th minute winner to hand Real Salt Lake a 2-1 win over Frank De Boer‘s bunch.

Josef Martinez appeared to have rescued Atlanta with his 78th minute equalizer, cancelling out Sebastian Saucedo’s first-half opener, but Savarino struck a blistering stunner from outside the box with the minimum three minutes of added time already passed. Savarino used straight muscle to shield a charging Leandro Gonzalez Pires off the ball, and the strike punished Brad Guzan for creeping just inches too far towards his near post.

The late winner redeemed a Real Salt Lake defense that fell asleep just a fraction too early on Martinez’s goal, as a low cross from Franco Escobar should have been easily dealt with, but the Venezuelan waited for the right moment and pounced in front of a snoozing Justin Glad to poke home the delivery.

While the two sides split the possession, RSL out-shot Atlanta and held the lead most of the way after Bofo put them in front just past the half-hour mark. The 22-year-old was given way too much space just outside the top of the box and placed a curler past Guzan for the opener for his second goal in two weeks.

The win gave RSL its third straight victory in what has become a streaky season. The campaign so far features two winning streaks and two losing streaks through 13 matches, with just one draw among the group. For Atlanta, the second straight loss leaves them stuck in fourth, squandering the chance to pass third-placed Montreal who sits a just point ahead.

LA Galaxy moves third in West with 1-0 win over Orlando

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A Jonathan dos Santos howitzer was enough to give the LA Galaxy a 1-0 win over Orlando City at home to move them into third place in the Western Conference standings.

The win not only boosted the Galaxy back up the standings but also stopped a brutal four-game losing skid that had threatened to erase the fabulous winning start to the season. It marks the club’s first clean sheet since a 0-0 draw with Minnesota United in late April.

The winner came in the 19th minute, a blast for his second goal of the season and first since mid March.

The clean sheet did not come easily. Dave Bingham stopped a Nani penalty in the 32nd minute after dos Santos tackled Sebastian Mendez in the area. Perry Kitchen – off the bench for his 2019 debut – was on hand to clear off the line after Bingham whiffed on a 68th minute Sacha Kljestan cross, while Bingham came up big three minutes later to stop a header by Chris Mueller off a corner.

Los Angeles’s victory moves them to 25 points, one behind Seattle who has a game in hand, and two ahead of Houston who has played three fewer games. For Orlando, they remain on 15 points, good for 10th in the East.