Neil Humphreys: Man United would be lucky to have Pochettino
Europe's leading clubs must all chase Tottenham's coveted manager boss now
Manchester United can get in line. Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and any other major club with a jaded squad and a juiced-up chequebook should be hustling for Mauricio Pochettino's signature.
In Tottenham Hotspur's wonderful 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund yesterday (Singapore time), the Argentinian proved that he's more than a football manager.
He's a dream plumber, a fastidious artist with a monkey wrench.
With a rusty toolbox, he takes a leaky sink and produces a gleaming, marble-tiled bathroom fit for an exhibition.
He even whistles while he works, as if he can't quite believe he's being paid to do a job that comes as naturally as breathing.
Even the plumber's analogy doesn't do him justice, unless Spurs chairman Daniel Levy pops in at regular intervals to steal a screwdriver.
Pochettino hasn't been allowed to reinforce his squad in two transfer windows.
He hasn't been allowed to go home to White Hart Lane.
And he hasn't enjoyed the services of injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
And yet, he humiliated the Bundesliga leaders with a tactical masterclass.
No one considers Jan Vertonghen a left wing-back, not even Jan Vertonghen. He's tall, rangy and dependable in a tackle.
He's Tony Adams with a better first touch, the definitive modern centre-back.
At Manchester City, John Stones reads the game exceptionally well and distributes the ball effectively, but Pep Guardiola isn't sticking him on the wing any time soon.
Pochettino, however, is a different breed of manager, one who seems to masochistically welcome every tactical headache as a chance to test himself.
He knew that Dortmund had defensive issues and Tottenham were light in attack, so he pushed Vertonghen forward to link with an unusual front three of Lucas Moura and Son Heung Min, with Christian Eriksen tucked in behind.
But he also tasked Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko with babysitting Tottenham's back three, which gave Vertonghen licence to roam.
And what happened?
The 31-year-old Belgian found the legs and invention to whip in the cross of the game for Son's opener.
He ghosted in from the left flank to volley home the second and gave rising star Jadon Sancho such a hard time that the Englishman was subbed off and Vertonghen went off with Man-of-the-Match honours.
It's one thing to write a veteran defender's name on the left side of a whiteboard.
"t's quite another to convince him, through training and discussion, that he's capable of running and crossing in a Spurs jersey like a young Gareth Bale.
But Pochettino barely breaks stride.
IMPROVISES AND IMPROVES
He improvises and improves individual and collective performances as a matter of routine.
Tottenham have been greater than the sum of their parts for so long that his heroics are taken for granted.
He squeezed every last drop of productivity from a declining Mousa Dembele, until the injury-prone midfielder was sold for a tidy sum.
In Dembele's place, Sissoko has gone from a fragile shell of insecurities to an unbreakable slab of granite in a single season.
Alongside Sissoko, Winks has quietly morphed into a redoubtable holding midfielder, more than capable of deputising for the absent Eric Dier.
Spurs lost perhaps a third of their goals when Kane and Alli headed for the treatment table.
So Pochettino remoulded another of his players.
Son went from dependable, slightly stereotypical, Asian automaton to elegant creator, perhaps one of the best false No. 9s on show right now.
And Pochettino achieves all of this with barely a word. Literally.
The Argentinian's short, simple sentences in his second language are both a blessing and a curse.
He doesn't succumb to the tacky hubris that brought down Jose Mourinho, but his lack of smiley animation makes him less of a media darling than Juergen Klopp or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But Solskjaer, and his Manchester United employers, will examine Tottenham's victory and acknowledge the maturity and class of an uncomplaining manager who consistently overachieves against superior opponents.
On paper, United's first XI against PSG arguably edged Tottenham's starters against Dortmund, but the flawless execution of Pochettino's plan was the difference.
Indeed, it's the first part that's critical, the flawless execution.
Pochettino appears to have remarkable powers of persuasion. He makes players believe.
Centre-backs as left wing-backs, midfielders as strikers, boys as men, they all believe in themselves, their manager and his radical vision.
Just imagine this guy's potential with a budget.
United can. So can Real Madrid and PSG.
Every Tottenham victory against the odds feels like another audition passed for a better club.
Ironically, the more Pochettino wins with an incomplete side, the more he looks the complete package.