Recent reports claiming that Manchester United are trying to lure manager Thomas Tuchel away from the unstable circumstances at Chelsea have been confirmed by The Athletic.
United’s search for their next permanent manager looked to be a two-horse race between PSG’s Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag, but the freezing of owner Roman Abramovic’s assets by the UK government has thrown Chelsea’s future into unprecedented chaos, and that of Tuchel along with it.
Yesterday The Daily Star claimed in an ‘exclusive’ story that Tuchel had already been made United’s number one priority. Pochettino and Ten Hag’s causes have not been helped this week by their current sides failing, like United, at the Round of 16 stage of the Champions League.
The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell’s sources confirm The Star’s claims. The reporter also believes that the German is a higher calibre of candidate than the two favourites.
‘Liverpool and City have surged away from United in recent years by hiring coaches who were at the peak of their powers,’ Whitwell says.
‘United need a person of similar substance to shoulder huge pressure and responsibility.
‘Thomas Tuchel is a Champions League winner, yet still set on an upward trajectory. He has handled big egos and difficult circumstances.
‘And it is true United are monitoring Chelsea’s situation. Although possibly complex, it would make sense for executives to go a step further and investigate whether he can be extracted from his role at Stamford Bridge.
Whitwell also claims that whilst the Chelsea boss has already suggested he will stay at Stamford Bridge despite a change in ownership, much will depend on how circumstances unfold in regard to such a sale.
‘Some sources believe he would be open to hearing United’s pitch,’ he concludes.
The whole basis of The Athletic’s article is to question the credentials of Poch and Ten Hag to overturn problems of such complexity at United, where a ‘cosy’ atmosphere prevails at the expense of a ‘sporting edge’.
Whitwell also namechecks Spain and France head coaches Luis Enrique and Didier Deschamps as potential upgrades on the favourites.
The suggestion that Tuchel is in a different league to Pochettino, for example, is controversial. Yes, Tuchel led Chelsea to Champions League glory, but he did so after having been given pretty much a blank chequebook to sign whoever he wanted.
He has so far failed to lead PSG to the crown.
Pochettino led Spurs to the Champions League final with a fraction of the Chelsea budget and also converted them into regular top four finishers, something that they have been unable to replicate since he left. He did so with extremely limited funds during the club’s stadium rebuild.
In truth, it is clear that both are among the best managers in professional football and that either should, at least on paper, be an upgrade on the inexperienced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.