HE’S yours for £32million, Ed.
Mauricio Pochettino, the world’s most wanted boss when he led Tottenham to the Champions League final 119 days ago, comes with a hefty price-tag.
But look at it another way — it is £14m cheaper than midfielder Fred, a complete flop since he arrived 15 months ago and a standout example of Manchester United’s malaise.
United, who first courted Poch when they fired Louis van Gaal in May 2016 and again just days before Jose Mourinho was sent packing last December, are likely to try again at some point.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who squeezed past League One Rochdale on penalties in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, is feeling the strain.
The job of reviving United, of fighting it out for football’s big prizes, is beyond him, despite what club chief Ed Woodward claims in public.
POCH’S TORTUOUS WEEK
Every result is forensically analysed, with poor performances against Dale, West Ham and Astana in their last three games adding to the unease around the place. Arsenal, at home on Monday, is a biggie.
By then the future of Pochettino will be clearer because he will be judged by Spurs fans during their home game against Southampton.
It feels like he needs to win, and to win well, after another tortuous week.
After the Carabao Cup shootout defeat against Colchester United on Tuesday, he admitted to cracks inside the first-team dressing room.
Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker-Peters, Eric Dier, Lucas Moura, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have all had beefs with the world’s most wanted.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FALLOUT
Yesterday, when he adopted a sunnier disposition, Poch maintained he is the man to put things right.
Spurs, who have faith in their highly-regarded head coach to start winning again, can cope with one sticky run.
The problem is whether Poch is really in for the next cycle, with the widely- accepted White Hart Lane view that another squad overhaul is due.
After five years during which he has overseen a change of personnel, added noughts to the valuations of some ordinary footballers, ushered them into their sparkly new stadium and led them to a European Cup final, he is entitled to think about his future.
He was upset by the celebrations at the post-Champions League final banquet, when Spurs top brass drank and sang and toasted their success until the early hours.
The failure to win, to beat Liverpool in Madrid that night, hurt Poch more than he has ever let on.
It was the culmination of five years’ hard graft and the Argentinian was desperate to have something to show for it by landing the biggest prize in European club football.
That abridged version of his spell in North London would wipe out most people.
In the summer, when Max Allegri announced a year-long sabbatical, Poch was known to covet the Juventus job.
The Agnelli family turned to Maurizio Sarri, with his £5m buyout clause at Chelsea making it more appealing.
Poch is an expensive acquisition.
SPURS-UNITED BAD RELATIONS
When he signed a new five-year deal at the start of last season, he did so without inserting any exit clauses into his contract.
It means the cream of Europe — Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, United — would have to pay up his contract, which has three years and nine months to run, in full.
Poch earns around £8.5m a year, but there is no chance of getting him on the cheap.
For United to poach a rival Premier League manager, it would be a complicated process.
There is discord between Spurs and United, a fractious relationship between the top brass after years of rancour over player sales.
Teddy Sheringham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov all forced Daniel Levy’s hand to make the move to Old Trafford happen. It has not been forgotten.
Spurs chairman Levy, who has turned down an official approach from Real Madrid and an unofficial move by Chelsea for his manager, does not want to let him go.
PRESSURE BUILDS ON OLE
The problem is Poch and his failure to unequivocally pass on the message to his employer and his players that he is staying.
Nobody can say for certain.
The firm view at Old Trafford, based on soundings taken in the game, is that Pochettino wants away.
If that is correct, he could do with a break first.
This job is chaotic, with the pressures and the demands on the top managers turning them into emotional wrecks.
He needs a period of introspection, some time to recover as he comes to terms with the first serious wobble of his Spurs career.
Solskjaer has different pressures, with United’s 659million worldwide fanbase all seeming to have their say on social media.
It makes grim reading for him.
They want the winning feeling again, longing for those giddy days when they could turn up and expect to see their boys triumph.
It is stodgy stuff, with United’s players struggling to adapt to Solskjaer’s methods.
He has boardroom backing, but the possibility of taking Pochettino to the Theatre of Dreams will always be a temptation.
To make it happen, it will cost them £32m.
For United, it’d be worth every penny.