Mauricio Pochettino has opened the door for a quick return to management following his recent exit from Tottenham, saying he is open to listening to any offers put before him.

The 47-year-old was sacked by the Premier League club on November 19 after a difficult start to the season, with Jose Mourinho brought in as his replacement.

Pochettino returned to his native Argentina to unwind but is ready to step back into work should the right opportunity present itself.

"There are a lot of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on," he told Fox Sports Argentina.

"For the time being, the most important thing is for me to clear my head after five-and-a-half incredible seasons with Tottenham. 

"My aim is to seek the ability to rebuild myself and get my self-motivation back.

"It is my intention to return to manage in Europe. It is hard for me to imagine a project in Argentina. However, for the sake of my family, I would not refuse to work over here.

"But now I need to be calm for a few days and see what happens. I haven't had a lot of time to digest what has happened with me.

"My first decision was to come back to Argentina, return to my home and see family and friends. My best decision was to come to Argentina to switch off for 10 days.

"But I expect to return to Europe to make decisions on my future. At my age I don't need a lot of time to recover. I am open to listen to projects put before me."

Arsenal are on the lookout for a new boss following the dismissal of Unai Emery last week, while German champions Bayern Munich are without a permanent head coach.

Manchester United are also rumoured to be long-term admirers of Pochettino, who guided Tottenham to top-four finishes in four of his five full seasons in charge, as well as their first Champions League final in 2018-19.

In August 2018, Mauricio Pochettino guided Tottenham to a 3-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In hindsight, it was a defeat that appeared to signal the beginning of the end for Mourinho at United, with the Portuguese coach sacked four months later, replaced – initially on a temporary basis – by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pochettino was heavily linked with the United hot seat, but Solskjaer's impressive run earned him the job permanently. But while Spurs went on to reach a Champions League final, the Red Devils' form dropped off dramatically.

Now, 16 months on from that clash at Old Trafford, Mourinho returns to his former stomping ground for the first time since his December 2018 sacking, having taken over from Pochettino at Spurs – who dismissed the former Argentina international following a poor start to 2019-20.

Two 3-2 wins on the bounce in the league, either side of a 4-2 comeback victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League, have seen Tottenham climb up to fifth place, two points above United, who could only draw with Aston Villa on Sunday.

Can Mourinho show his old side just what they are missing, or will Solskjaer prove his credentials in a match over which the spectre of Pochettino could loom large.

 

THE 'SPECIAL ONE' RETURNS

Glory in the EFL Cup and Europa League made Mourinho's first year in charge of United a successful one, though those were the only major trophies he won during his stint in Manchester.

After finishing second – well behind neighbours Manchester City – in Mourinho's sophomore year, United's form tailed off at the start of the former Chelsea boss' final campaign in charge.

Their home defeat to Tottenham followed on from a loss at Brighton and Hove Albion, while they also went down to both West Ham and City as they suffered four defeats from their opening 12 matches.

A run of three successive draws against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Arsenal paved the way for a 3-1 reverse at Liverpool to result in Mourinho's departure.

But after almost a year out of management, he was handed a way back into the big time with Spurs, who seem rejuvenated – albeit still with some glaring weaknesses – and Mourinho is now aiming to become just the third manager to win a Premier League away game at Old Trafford with two different clubs.

United, on the other hand, have managed just four league victories this season and head into Wednesday's encounter without a victory in three matches across all competitions.

In fact, since Solskjaer was appointed on a permanent basis on March 28, United have claimed all three points in just six Premier League games.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: MARCUS RASHFORD V HARRY KANE

One shining light for United in recent weeks has been the form of Marcus Rashford, who seems to have taken up the mantle of leading the Red Devils' youthful attack.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane's goals were not enough to save Pochettino's job, but the England captain is still as reliable as ever when presented with a chance.

Both players are on seven league goals for the season, with Rashford's 14 appearances one more than Kane.

Rashford has also played slightly more than Kane in terms of minutes, racking up 1,219 compared to the Tottenham striker's 1,165.

Kane is proving more efficient, with the 26-year-old scoring his seven goals from a total of 36 shots, resulting in a conversion rate of 19.44 per cent, while Rashford's rate stands at 16.67 per cent.

Not much separates the pair in terms of goal frequency – Kane edging this one with a strike every 166 minutes, compared to Rashford's 174.

However, Kane is the clear winner when it comes to expected goals. By this metric, Rashford (8.66) should be on at least eight goals for the campaign, while his opposite number at Spurs has only been expected to score five goals from the chances he has had this term.

FORM GUIDE

Pochettino managed two draws in his final matches in charge of Spurs, meaning Mourinho's side are now unbeaten in four league games.

Should Tottenham win, Mourinho will become their first manager to win his first three top-flight matches in charge. 

Dele Alli seems to have recaptured his best form, scoring twice and providing an assist in the two Premier League matches since Mourinho's arrival – as many as he had in his final 12 appearances under Pochettino.

United's haul of 18 points from their opening 14 Premier League matches this season means the Red Devils have endured their worst start to a domestic season since the 1988-89 campaign, when they also had 18 points and went on to finish 11th.

Both United and Tottenham are equal in one sense, however, with both having dropped 12 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.

HISTORY SAYS…

United's hopes will not be boosted by the fact they have lost three of their past seven home league meetings against Spurs, after losing only two of their previous 36 at Old Trafford.

However, Tottenham have lost more Premier League games to United than against any other side, though Mourinho can take solace in knowing the away team won in both top-flight meetings last season.

Kieran Trippier expects Mauricio Pochettino to bounce back from his Tottenham sacking and prove a success wherever he goes.

The Premier League side dismissed their long-serving manager this month and immediately replaced him with Jose Mourinho.

Pochettino spent just over five seasons in charge and led the club to a maiden Champions League final in June.

Arsenal and Bayern Munich have since been linked with the Argentinian and former Spurs defender Trippier is certain his old boss will make the most of his next job.

He told The Athletic: "I've got a lot of mates at Tottenham – players and staff. It wasn't nice to see what they went through, not getting the results they wanted. It wasn't nice to see them getting criticised.

"Now a new manager has come in and hopefully they'll get the results they want and push further up the table, where they deserve to be, but everyone knows how good [Pochettino] is as a manager.

"For sure he will be successful wherever he goes in the future.

"Obviously it was the chairman's decision to let the manager go. That's football. It happens. Players go, managers go."

Trippier's endorsement of Pochettino follows an awkward separation between player and manager in July.

The England international left for LaLiga side Atletico Madrid after failing to gain reassurances over his future in north London.

Asked if he had reached out to Pochettino, Trippier replied: "Yes, I sent him a message to tell him how much I appreciate everything he has done for me.

"I couldn't not text him. I'm not that type of person. He gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level.

"I've come on a long journey in my career and he was a big, big part of that, so I thanked him for everything he has done for me."

The right-back added: "He was a big reason why I got called up to the England squad because he was the one who gave me the opportunity to show I could play at the highest level.

"I've got full respect for him and for what he did to help me get to where I am now."

Jose Mourinho believes it is impossible for managers to match the 20-year dynasties that Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger achieved, with Premier League bosses now forced to "fight for our job every day".

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Mourinho was appointed Tottenham head coach last week after Mauricio Pochettino was sacked just six months on from guiding Spurs to the Champions League final.

Another high-profile departure followed on Friday as Unai Emery, Wenger's replacement, lost his job at Arsenal after 18 months at the helm.

Manchester United have similarly struggled to fill the void left by Ferguson, who reigned for fully 27 years at Old Trafford, with Mourinho acknowledging job security rarely lasts longer than a day now at top clubs.

"Twenty years in a club? I don't think it's possible," he told reporters.

"Modern life, new technologies, social media - I think everything has an influence, even people's mentality, faster relations, getting tired easily, so many things that are changing.

"Not [just] football but [these things] are changing the world and the perception of things that I think Wenger was the last 'man/one'. It's a bad thing for us.

"We have to adapt and we have to try to prove that we are the man for the job. We have to fight for our job every day.

"I think the times where people know the job is going to be mine for X amount of years [are gone]. You have to fight for your job every day. Not just with the football results but with everything you do in the club.

"I think it's normal. It happens in society in so many areas. I can imagine even yourself in your newspaper and your radio you have to not just sleep on what you did previously.

"I think you have to show every day you have that you are the guy for the job. I think it's just life."

But Mourinho said he does not go into new jobs worrying about how long his tenure will last.

"I don't think about that," he said. "I think about trying to show I am the man for the job every day."

Jose Mourinho insists he did not hold talks with Arsenal about replacing Unai Emery before becoming Tottenham's new head coach.

And the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss says the identity of the next Gunners head coach matters little to him - regardless of links to former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Mourinho was appointed by Tottenham last week, replacing the sacked Pochettino, but reports on Friday claimed he would also have been a target for Arsenal had Spurs' rivals moved faster in sacking Emery.

However, any suggestions that Mourinho may have discussed the Arsenal job with head of football Raul Sanllehi were batted away by the Portuguese.

Asked if his representative had met with Arsenal, Mourinho said: "No. No.

"Of course I never deny it because I never deny things. But when I was reading that I was in a meeting with Mr Sanllehi, it is not true."

Pochettino has emerged as one potential option at Emirates Stadium, meaning he would return to face Tottenham and Mourinho in charge of their fiercest rivals.

But Mourinho was not concerned by the prospect, insisting he would be taking on Arsenal and not the new coach.

"I never played against Pochettino in my life. Never," he said. "Manchester United against Tottenham, yes, Tottenham against Chelsea, yes, but never me against Pochettino.

"So if he goes to Arsenal, if he goes to I don't know which club, it will never be me against [him]. It will be me against these clubs.

"So yes, I look forward to playing against Arsenal; yes, I want to play against Arsenal. I know what it means for our fans.

"I know that one is a big one, not just because Arsenal is a big club that fights for the same objectives as we do, but also I know the meaning and I like it."

Arsenal sacked head coach Unai Emery on Friday following a disappointing start to his second season in charge of the club.

Emery lasted just 18 months in the job, paying the price for a winless run that spans seven games following Thursday's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in front of a sparse crowd at the Emirates Stadium.

Former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg has been promoted to take charge in an interim capacity, but what about the contenders to replace Emery on a permanent basis?

Here we examine seven potential candidates for what remains one of the most coveted jobs in football, despite Arsenal's recent struggles.

Massimiliano Allegri

The ex-Milan and Juventus boss won six Serie A titles during his coaching spell in Italy and is out of work after leaving the Allianz Stadium at the end of last season. Allegri also reached two Champions League finals with Juventus and is seemingly primed for a return to football management.

Carlo Ancelotti

Another proven winner, having lifted league trophies in Italy, England, France and Germany, as well as winning the Champions League three times. Ancelotti has experience of working in the Premier League with Chelsea, but he has had a tough time of things at Napoli this term and his reputation has taken a bit of a hit in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino

Another coach with experience of working in the Premier League with a London club, albeit at Arsenal's fierce rivals Tottenham. Pochettino worked wonders during his five-and-a-half years at Spurs, but he ultimately failed to win any silverware and his loyalty to the team that sacked him makes this an almost certain non-runner in the eyes of many.

Freddie Ljungberg

Iconic Arsenal midfielder Ljungberg is the man in possession of the job after being placed in caretaker charge. Following the initial success of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United in an identical capacity 13 months ago, leading to him landing the position full-time, could Arsenal be tempted to go down a similar route if results instantly improve?

Mikel Arteta

Sticking with the theme of turning to an ex-player to steady the ship, Arteta has long been tipped as a future Arsenal boss. The Spaniard captained the Gunners during his playing career and has spent the past few years picking up coaching advice from Pep Guardiola. The question, though, is whether he is ready to manage in his own right - and if so, would this really be the right first job to take on?

Patrick Vieira

Unlike Arteta, and indeed Ljungberg, Vieira has experience of managing in a big league after 17 months in charge of Ligue 1 side Nice, where he remains under contract. The ex-France international, still a legendary figure at Arsenal, guided Nice to a seventh-place finish last season and has previously hinted he would be interested in returning to Arsenal.

Nuno Espirito Santo

Nuno led Wolves out of the Championship and sealed a seventh-place finish in the Premier League last season. He has continued his upward trajectory this term by balancing European football with domestic commitments, but could he be persuaded to jump ship while onto a good thing at Molineux, where he is loved by supporters?

Mauricio Pochettino thanked Tottenham as the sacked manager ended his silence to say he gave the club "the best of me".

After five and a half years in charge, Pochettino was dismissed by Spurs last week following a miserable run of form that had the club in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

Jose Mourinho was swiftly appointed as head coach in his place and has since guided Tottenham to back-to-back wins against West Ham and Olympiacos.

Pochettino left a message for the squad on a training-ground whiteboard but made his first public pronouncement on his exit on Thursday.

The 47-year-old made Spurs regulars in the Champions League, reaching the 2018-19 final, and described "tough challenges" and "exciting success".

"I would like to thank [owner] Joe Lewis and [chairman] Daniel Levy for giving me the opportunity to be part of Tottenham Hotspur's history," he said, in a statement released by the League Managers Association.

"I would like to thank also everyone I met at Tottenham, all the club staff and the football players during these five and a half years.

"Finally, I would like to give a special mention to the fans who make this club so great with their fantastic support.

"I gave the best of me to accomplish the objectives I was asked for in our first meeting. There were equally tough challenges as exciting success.

"Best wishes for the future, I am sure we will cross paths again."

Even before leaving Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Pochettino was linked to both Manchester United and Real Madrid, along with Bayern Munich following Niko Kovac's sacking.

As pressure builds on Unai Emery at Arsenal, Pochettino is also among the favourites to take over at Tottenham's nearest rivals.

Kai Havertz is reportedly wanted by seven of Europe's biggest clubs.

The Germany and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder has impressed in the Bundesliga, sparking interest from numerous clubs.

Havertz, 20, is contracted at Leverkusen until 2022, but that does not seem to be stopping Europe's best and biggest.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, MADRID AMONG SEVEN CLUBS WHO WANT HAVERTZ

LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of seven clubs who want Kai Havertz, according to Sport Bild.

Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are the other clubs interested in Havertz.

Havertz made his senior debut at Leverkusen in 2016 and has already amassed 121 appearances for the club.

ROUND-UP

- Talks between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Milan are continuing. Sport Mediaset reports the striker wants €3million net until June, while Milan are offering €2m, with Ibrahimovic hoping to arrive at his next club by mid-December.

- Arsenal have started looking at potential replacements for under-fire head coach Unai Emery, according to The Daily Telegraph. Emery is under pressure after a run of six games without a win at Arsenal. Mauricio Pochettino, Massimiliano Allegri and Nuno Espirito Santo are reported candidates.

- Edinson Cavani is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and the Uruguayan could be set for an MLS move. Cavani's representatives met with LA Galaxy last week regarding a potential switch, according to Le10Sport.

- Arsenal and Lyon are interested in Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, reports Tuttomercatoweb. The 26-year-old France international has made just three LaLiga appearances this season after dealing with injuries.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Jan Vertonghen is keen to discuss a new deal with Tottenham, according to Sky Sports News. The centre-back is reportedly a target for Roma and Bayer Leverkusen.

- Inter Miami are still eyeing their first coach ahead of their inaugural MLS season in 2020. The Telegraph reports David Beckham is lining up Nice boss Patrick Vieira.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be "selfish" and push to sign experienced players in the January transfer window, according to club legend Gary Neville.

The Red Devils sit ninth in the Premier League table following a thrilling 3-3 draw away at Sheffield United, leaving them nine points adrift of the top four.

Solskjaer has delivered just four wins from 13 league matches this term and pointed to a lack of experience for his side's latest setback at Bramall Lane.

The Norwegian has put faith in a number of young players across his 11 months in charge, but Neville has urged his former team-mate to recruit more experienced heads if he is to save his job.

"Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to go and spend the club's money in January, for himself," Neville said during Sky Sports' Monday Night Football show. "He has to go and spend the club's money on two or three experienced players, he must demand it.

"He's not going to be there to see the fruits of the labour that he's putting in, the foundations he's laying, because there's a lot of good young players out on that pitch, that I actually enjoy watching."

Neville, who won eight Premier League titles in his career, added: "Ole's going to have to be selfish, he's going to have that ruthless streak that a [Jose] Mourinho has, or [Antonio] Conte has, and spend the club's money to protect himself.

"Put two or three experienced players in amongst that group and they could come alive."

Manchester United battled back from two goals down to lead 3-2 on Sunday, only for Oli McBurnie to score a late equaliser for the hosts, which Neville claimed further proves his point about a lack of leaders in the team.

"I've come to conclude two things. One, they haven't got senior players setting the standard of them, letting them know the expectation of what is required in a football team. 

"They haven't got the leaders and the people around them. When I first broke into the team, I had people who set the standard.

"There is one more big thing - they don't know how to approach a Premier League away game, they don't understand that it's different playing at Old Trafford than it is away from home and they haven't got the experience or maturity."

Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham last week and has been strongly linked as a contender to replace Solskjaer, but Neville is unsure whether it is time to make a change.

"Personally, two and a half years ago when Louis van Gaal got sacked by Manchester United, I said Mauricio Pochettino should have been appointed before Jose Mourinho, so I can't sit here now and say he won't be the right person for the football club.

"But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed eight months ago, the club have taken a different track."

Jose Mourinho has compared Tottenham's Champions League final defeat last season to an unsuccessful moon landing.

Under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs suffered a 2-0 defeat to Premier League rivals Liverpool in their first ever Champions League final.

Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Porto in 2004 and Inter in 2010, was appointed as Pochettino's successor last week and accepts the defeat to Jurgen Klopp's side might still be having a lingering impact on his new players.

Speaking ahead of his first Champions League clash in charge of Spurs against Olympiacos on Tuesday, Mourinho said: "I love this competition as much as everyone in football. It's something that everybody dreams of winning. Not everyone has the privilege of being a Champions League winner which I was happy enough to do.

"If Mauricio says that [losing the final affected the players] then he's been here and he's sharing his feelings. It's like landing on the moon but you don't do it. Look at Liverpool, who had the frustration of not winning and then the next season they reached the final and won it.

"Every Champions League campaign there are details around your success or failure like how many times I lost on penalties or in the last minute. Details make the difference.

"In my case, the season where I lost the semi-final on penalties [to Bayern Munich in the 2011-12 season] with Real Madrid I think that was the strongest Real Madrid team of the past 15-20 years. We won the league but lost on penalties because three of the best penalty takers in the world, Kaka, [Sergio] Ramos and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, missed. We were the best team.

"As for Spurs last season, they had little details for them. VAR was with them and the Lucas [Moura] goal in Amsterdam. To arrive in the final is an achievement but not history."

Tottenham will qualify for the last 16 with victory over their Greek opponents at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but Mourinho says he will not start thinking about the possibility of getting his hands on the trophy until later in the competition.

"With these boys I will never be afraid of any Champions League match," he added. "We need to qualify. It's only when my teams arrive in the quarter-finals that I start thinking that we have a chance. In this moment we are far from it."

Dele Alli has revealed he went to see Mauricio Pochettino after he was sacked by Tottenham, conceding he blamed himself for the Argentine's dismissal.

Spurs relieved Pochettino of his position last Tuesday, after a dismal start to the season saw Tottenham sit 14th with 14 points from 12 Premier League games.

Jose Mourinho was appointed as Pochettino's successor less than 12 hours later, with the former Manchester United and Chelsea manager overseeing a 3-2 win over West Ham in his first match in charge.

England midfielder Alli impressed in Saturday's triumph, but confirmed he had been upset by the news of Pochettino's sacking.

"I think it's so clear what Mauricio meant to the players. He was here for five years. He helped me grow a lot," Alli told a news conference ahead of Tottenham's Champions League meeting with Olympiacos - their first home game under Mourinho.

"I came here as an 18-year-old and had my ups and downs here and he's helped me through all of them. As soon as I found out the news I was very upset, but I wanted to speak to him.

"It was just a conversation between two friends. I've seen him more than I've seen my own family in the past five years so it's been very tough for me. But things change all the time.

"We have a job to do, we've got to keep moving forward, but he's going to be someone I stay in contact with. It'll be different because he's not my manager but he's an amazing person who's helped me not just in football but my life as well.

"We spoke a lot about football when he was here, but I was very upset. I couldn't wait to speak to him and to see him. I think it was just important. Our conversation wasn't too much about football."

Alli acknowledged it was difficult not to feel guilty over Pochettino losing his job.

"I would be lying if I say I didn't blame myself when it first happened rather than looking at the bigger picture," Alli said.

"We've had some amazing journeys together, we grew together, all of the coaching staff and the players. We achieved a lot in terms of where we've come from and we're all very thankful.

"You can't help but feel a bit to blame because we were out there, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. Now as players, we have a new manager here and we owe the club a lot as well - we have to make sure we get back in good form and win games."

Harry Kane revealed he spent "a couple of hours" with Mauricio Pochettino in the wake of the Argentinian's sacking as Tottenham manager.

Pochettino was sacked on Tuesday and replaced by Jose Mourinho, who guided Spurs to a 3-2 win at West Ham in his first game in charge.

Kane, who scored at the London Stadium, visited Pochettino the day after the 47-year-old was sacked.

"I've been to see him," the star forward told UK newspapers.

"I went around his house and caught up with him the next day. It was a shock for everyone, so I wanted to go and see him and we had a chat for a couple of hours, and it was nice to do that before the new manager came in.

"It's been a week I've never really had in my career before. A big shock on Tuesday night for everyone, the players included. And then it was a quick turnaround all of a sudden we got a new manager, one of the best managers there has been in the game."

While Pochettino impressed at the helm of Tottenham, including reaching last season's Champions League final, he failed to deliver a trophy.

Mourinho is a serial winner and Kane hopes the Portuguese tactician can lead Spurs to the trophies he craves.

"The gaffer has won every club he has gone to, there's no hiding away from that," he said.

"He wants to win, he's a proven winner. I've made it clear that I'm at the stage of my career where I want to win trophies, I've made it clear I want to win them here and it's a big year for this.

"Realistically, we look at the Champions League and the FA Cup to try to do that. We will see how that goes and, from my point of view, I will keep doing what I'm doing and keep fighting for this club on the pitch."

Spurs host Olympiacos in the Champions League on Tuesday as they look to book their place in the knockout stage.

How do you sum up a match like that? "It's football," was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's attempt on Sky Sports. Notably, he added: "The difference between this year and last year's team is huge."

To put it simply, this was another Premier League away game in 2019-20 Manchester United did not win. To Wolves, Southampton, West Ham, Newcastle United and Bournemouth, now add the name of Sheffield United.

Five wins from six games in all competitions before Sunday was enough to suggest Solskjaer had his players turning a corner again. Then, in the week Mauricio Pochettino became available, they produced their worst 70 minutes in months, managed a breathtaking comeback, and still ended the game disappointed at a 3-3 draw. Such is life under Solskjaer: signs of progress and moments of excellence that only seem to make sure the next setback is still newsworthy.

They managed one shot – a league-low under Solskjaer – in perhaps the worst first half of football of his tenure. Solskjaer cackled before kick-off that Phil Jones, in his first league start of the season, might play in midfield and might play in defence.

That must have been the instruction he gave to the player personally, given the uncertain recklessness with which Jones bludgeoned his way in and out of position. His despairing grimace after he was shoved over by Lys Mousset for the fortunate but fully deserved opening John Fleck goal said it all, occurring as it did just two hours after Chris Smalling, deemed expendable by Solskjaer, was scoring and assisting in a 3-0 win for Roma.

The 3-4-3, the line-up, the instructions – everything seemed wrong. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James were so lifeless, so withdrawn from the action, they might as well have been having a kickabout at Hillsborough 12 miles away. Andreas Pereira found Sheffield United shirts with precision almost every time he had the ball. Brandon Williams, after a promising few weeks in the first team, was bullied and beaten with increasing ease down the left.

Sheffield United were everything the Red Devils were not: well-drilled, hard-working, swift and accurate with the ball, ferocious without it. They pulled the visitors out of position and surged into the gaps, while their opponents played at such an excruciatingly slow pace that 46-year-old Solskjaer could probably have joined in. After United took their first corner of the match short and played a handful of slow passes before Fred ballooned a cross out of play, Harry Maguire bellowed at his midfielder to "just put it in the f****** box!". The United Way.

The headlines were written, the #OleOut cries getting louder, the Pochettino dial turned up to 11. And then, in seven minutes, the youngsters into whose hands Solskjaer has put his job showed they will not let this manager go quietly into the night.

Williams struck a sweet half-volley, becoming the youngest United player in three years to score in the Premier League until Mason Greenwood took that stat for himself five minutes later. When Martial, James and Rashford finally combined, they tore the defence to shreds to make it 3-2.

It was breathless, barely believable. Pochettino was just the ex-Tottenham manager again as another stunning comeback with Solskjaer's name on it beckoned. But he must share the blame for their failure to see it out. With the hosts looking forlorn and suspect with every attack, Solskjaer blinked, taking off Martial for Axel Tuanzebe in the hope of holding on to what they had. They promptly dropped deep, failed to clear their box and let Ollie McBurnie equalise. The setback was the news again.

And so Ole remains at the wheel, grinding through the gears, veering into traffic, but his gaze steadfast on the road ahead. United are ninth, closer in points to the relegation zone than the top four, 20 adrift of leaders Liverpool… but fighting. Would they fight for Pochettino in the same way?

Robert Pires concedes Arsenal are "in big trouble" but is backing Unai Emery as the right coach to change their fortunes.

A late goal from Alexandre Lacazette – his second of the game – salvaged a 2-2 home draw against Southampton on Saturday, with Arsenal now without a win in their last five Premier League matches.

The Gunners sit a worrying eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea after just 13 games.

Saturday's result piled more pressure on Emery, with Arsenal's fanbase growing increasingly restless.

But Pires, who won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups during his time at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, believes Emery can correct their dismal form.

"Everybody knows at Arsenal, even Unai Emery, that they are in big trouble," Pires told Omnisport, speaking as part of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan.

"But [Emery] is a competitor, he knows the high level. He was a great manager with Sevilla, with Paris Saint-Germain, but the situation is not so good.

"He is a good manager, I think he will make a success with Arsenal. I hope for him anyway. The situation isn't so good, but him and the players need to find the solution."

Pires said Arsenal must still push for a top-four place, given the Champions League is where the best players want to be.

He said: "The target for Arsenal and for Unai is to finish in the top four because it's very important for Arsenal to play again in the Champions League next season.

"I don't know what will happen at the end of the season, especially for Arsenal. For some players - [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, Lacazette, or even Mesut Ozil - the first thing for them and all the Arsenal players is to finish in the top four."

Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham underwent managerial upheaval in midweek, with Mauricio Pochettino replaced by Jose Mourinho following a dismal start to the campaign.

Mourinho started his tenure with a 3-2 win at West Ham, and despite Arsenal's rivalry with Spurs, Pires is glad to see the former Manchester United and Chelsea boss back in the Premier League.

"I think it's great news for football generally, and of course for the Premier League. Everyone knows that Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world," Pires said.

"He won lots of titles: Spain, Italy, and of course in the UK. In the UK, we know there is competition between Spurs and Gunners, but this is football and I'm very sad for Mauricio Pochettino.

"He is a great manager, only six months ago he got to the final of the Champions League. Unfortunately for him he lost against Liverpool and now he is sacked.

"So footballers or even the manager, things are tough."

Barcelona are preparing for next season and they have several players on their wish list.

The LaLiga leaders are enjoying a decent campaign in 2019-20, but they already have one eye on 2020-2021.

Inter's Lautaro Martinez, Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich and Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic are reportedly their main targets.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TARGET MARTINEZ, KIMMICH AND MILENKOVIC

Martinez, Kimmich and Milenkovic are Barcelona's main targets ahead of 2020-21, according to AS.

If they miss out on Kimmich, they will look to RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann, the report says.

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen is another option, while Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a target if they cannot land Martinez.

ROUND-UP

- Mauricio Pochettino could be set for a quick return to management. Bayern Munich want to hold talks with the former Tottenham manager, according to The Telegraph.

- Could the impact of Jose Mourinho be felt at Tottenham already? Toby Alderweireld, who is out of contract at the end of the season, could stay at Spurs after Mourinho's arrival, The Telegraph also reports.

- Roma could extend Lorenzo Pellegrini's contract, but several clubs are interested in the midfielder. Manchester United, Tottenham, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter have shown some interest in Pellegrini, according to CalcioMercato.

- Marko Pjaca has failed to have an impact since his arrival at Juventus in 2016. CalcioMercato reports the Croatian attacker, who has already been on loan at Schalke and Fiorentina since his arrival in Turin, could be set for another spell away from Juve in January.

- Chelsea have a target in January if their transfer ban is overturned. The Premier League giants have been monitoring CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov, according to Sky Sports. The 21-year-old scored 15 Russian Premier League goals last season and has five in 16 games in 2019-20.

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