Gary Neville comments have given Manchester United easy decision on Mauricio Pochettino – Liam Wood

You might have mistaken Gary Neville for Sky Sports boxing commentator Johnny Nelson when sharing his views on the ongoing search to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United manager.

It seems an age ago that the popular Norwegian saw his tenure brought to an unceremonious end.

The final round for Solskjaer came against Watford — who, incidentally, proved difficult opponents again for United at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon — as they afflicted a devastating knockout blow to a man who famously provided United supporters with one of their greatest modern memories as a player.

Fans have continued to serenade Solskjaer at times at Old Trafford and those chants speak volumes for him.

Despite notable success against Pep Guardiola in particular, though, the former United manager was outclassed in the dugout when compared to the Manchester City manager and Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp.

“They cannot put an inferior manager in against Pep and Klopp, because they will get beat up. Whoever they are, they will get beat up. Throw all the money at them in the world and it will be a struggle.”

Those are words from Neville and not Nelson, as the former United captain shared his views on the ongoing search for a new manager.

Ralf Rangnick has steadied the ship, no doubt, but for United to restore past glories they must match their biggest rivals in the dugout and on the pitch — not just on paper.

Recruitment has been a serious issue post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Financial backing? Not so much.

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Having finished third and second in each of his two full seasons in charge, Solskjaer represented improvement but, from the moment they signed Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, expectations were raised and, ultimately, the baby-faced assassin was unable to deliver .

Under his watch, United were — to coin Neville’s phrase — beat up in their attempts to best City and Liverpool.

Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag from Ajax are, apparently, the next mandatory challengers.

While there is no doubt Ten Hag continues to impress in the Eredivisie and Europe, his fellow contender Pochettino has Premier League experience on his CV and, in his current role at PSG, has to man-manage superstars such as Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr and LionelMessi.

Ralf Rangnick speaks with his backroom staff at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Put simply, he would not be fazed by anything that greets him at Old Trafford.

Speaking in December, Neville said: “[Pochettino] has got experience of the league, he would play the right type of football. It feels like the moment for him to step up. He is now managing big stars, some big characters and personalities. That will help him and I’ve always liked him. I have always loved the way that he has operated.

“He fits the club and he works well with young players. He gets the best out of players. He’s a good coach. He also works people the right way. For me it would be him, but he’s got his job at Paris Saint- Germain and, if he does well there, they won’t let him go.”

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Ticking several boxes, that last factor might, perhaps, be the most significant of the lot.

Indeed, any would-be decision to appoint Pochettino could be taken out of United’s hands if he succeeds with PSG.

Messi and his teammates have one leg up in their Champions League showdown against Real Madrid, the winners of which would, arguably, pose the biggest threat to English success in the marquee European competition this term.

United should listen to Neville and seize the initiative by making moves before this season ends.

Who should United appoint as manager? Have your say in the comments section below.

If they wait, they risk Pochettino succeeding and staying put in Paris or, alternatively, being sworn in by Real if they opt for a managerial change of their own in the summer. You get the sense ten Hag connections might resurface further down the line, but United might only have this final opportunity to see if Pochettino, who comes with the approval of Neville, as well as Ferguson.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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