RICHARDS: Passive Poch failed United audition as PSG lost to City

MICAH RICHARDS: Passive Pochettino failed his Man United audition by ducking unpopular decisions and not subbing Messi, Neymar or Mbappe as PSG lost to City… a real Old Trafford manager would take charge

  • Mauricio Pochettino got some big calls wrong as PSG lost to Man City in Europe 
  • The Argentine, who is again subject to Man United interest, ducked some calls 
  • Brendan Rodgers is again showing why he is such a top coach with Leicester 
  • Thiago Alcantara’s goal against Porto was sublime and hopefully he kicks on now

Ralf Rangnick is a vastly experienced and widely respected man, whose reputation has been hard earned.

To hear the way Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel speak about his influence on them demonstrates his capabilities.

It would be naive of Manchester United fans to think everything will suddenly click, given the difficulties of recent weeks, but there is now an experienced hand on the wheel to stabilise the club — albeit a man who has not managed in the Premier League before.

Ralf Rangnick is vastly experienced and widely respected, with a hard-earned reputation

I’ve watched events unfold at Old Trafford over the last few weeks with an increasing sense of bewilderment.

United, for all that great history and everything they supposedly stand for, have felt a shambles at times.

I will never advocate the sacking of a manager but it was plain to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign had completely unravelled the day Liverpool won 5-0 at United.

The likes of Jurgen Klopp (left) have spoken glowingly about Rangnick’s influence previously

A club with foresight would have moved swiftly then, particularly with Antonio Conte available. They missed their opportunity to act decisively last month.

How could United let Tottenham steal a march on them? I’ve seen it argued that Conte wouldn’t be the right fit in Manchester but how can people say that about a man who previously won five league titles and three cups at three of Europe’s biggest clubs?

Even if it wasn’t to be Conte, the indecision created a situation where United appointed a caretaker manager, in Michael Carrick, before hiring an interim manager so they could then go about looking for a different, permanent manager.

We used to hear the term ‘best in class’ about United. Everything they did was done to the highest standards but they don’t act that way now.

I was delighted Carrick oversaw a win in Villarreal on Tuesday and I’m sure he was honoured to be given the opportunity but, ideally, he would not have been thrown in at the deep end like that.

United haven’t had a manager who has really stamped their authority on the club since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Michael Carrick handled United’s clash with Villarreal with grace and deserved his victory

They lost that sense of invincibility when he went and, certainly in the last five years, the way they have negotiated the transfer market has been very revealing. Ask yourself this: how many times will their rivals — be it Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea — have seen United sign a player since 2016 and said to themselves, ‘wish we had got him?’

I doubt it has happened more than once or twice.

City wanted Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. They considered signing Harry Maguire and Fred too but failing to do those deals has hardly stopped progress across town.

United beat City to Alexis Sanchez’s signing in 2017 but that likely turned out to be a lucky escape for the Etihad hierarchy, financially and in terms of performance. It never used to be that way with United. 

They always got the best players, right up to 2012 when Ferguson was instrumental in getting a deal done for Robin van Persie from Arsenal, a transfer that helped them wrestle the title back from City, who also wanted the Dutchman.

Not since Robin van Persie have United acquired the perfect signing who all their rivals needed

Will they suddenly start signing the players Liverpool and City are after because of Rangnick?

I’m not convinced they will and the uncertainty over who will be the full-time manager, may put off prospective signings in January.

The whole situation makes me feel that United do have a manager in place for the summer and perhaps that person has already agreed to work in some capacity along with Rangnick, who is expected to stay at the club in a senior position.

Some United fans may wonder what happens if Rangnick wins a trophy — maybe even the Champions League — and takes United into the top four? Will he just move upstairs regardless?

That seems to be the expected outcome and direction the club are indicating.

Speculation will continue as to who is coming in and a manager who I love, Mauricio Pochettino, is heavily linked with the role. 

When I was working at the Etihad on Wednesday as City beat his Paris Saint-Germain side 2-1, I couldn’t help but continue to wonder about the failure of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi to consistently get back into shape.

As things crumbled at City either Lionel Messi, Neymar or Kylian Mbappe should have come off

Pochettino ducked the unpopular decision and allows the front three to get away with it

Did Pochettino let them get away with it?

Realistically, one of those three needed to come off against City. A United-type manager, by traditional standards, would make the unpopular decisions. A man like Conte, for instance — but that ship has since sailed.

Who knows, maybe this unconventional set-up will work — they seem to have tried everything else — but, for the moment, I will wait before making any judgment.

Rodgers is still fantastic Mr Fox

A big win for Leicester in the Europa League against Legia Warsaw and they remain on course to reach the knockout stages.

It was a welcome change of fortune after a challenging few weeks in terms of results. Leicester were booed off at half-time against Chelsea seven days ago and it left manager Brendan Rodgers upset. 

I understand why. I would hope nobody thinks Rodgers is not the right man to lead the club because his work has been outstanding.

When the chips were down Brendan Rodgers delivered a huge win against Legia Warsaw

Injuries have taken a toll, losing key figures such as Wesley Fofana, James Justin, Youri Tielemans and Timothy Castagne, but when Leicester have a clean bill of health — and they get Patson Daka, Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho firing — they will fly again. Rodgers led Leicester to the FA Cup in May.

There is a reason he was linked to Manchester United. He’s a top coach, the Foxes are lucky to have him.

Micah’s man of the week

Thiago Alcantara… Wow! There wasn’t much riding on Liverpool’s Champions League date with Porto but that didn’t stop their Spain midfielder producing a goal that will be in the competition’s top five at the end of the season.

The technique of his half-volley at the Kop end, the precision to put slice on it to ensure goalkeeper Diogo Costa could never get near it and the poise to keep his eye on the ball as it came to him were all absolutely immaculate.

Thiago Alcantara’s technique to score against Porto at Anfield was out of this world

It zipped into the net like a stone skimming off a lake.

Things haven’t gone as Thiago would have hoped in his first year at Liverpool and he has found it a bit hard to adapt but, goodness me, he certainly is a player of the highest calibre.

I hope he is going to produce more moments of this quality in the weeks to come.

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