Jose Mourinho will shake hands with the manager tipped to succeed him as Manchester United manager on Monday night and the Old Trafford landscape may be shifting at the perfect moment for Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettinho to inherit his throne.

For a second season in succession, Mourinho heads into a home game against Spurs under dangerously weighty pressure, with last weekend’s woeful 3-2 defeat at Brighton darkened the clouds of gloom that have been gathering over this once special manager in recent weeks.

Last October, an away defeat at Huddersfield left Mourinho with questions to answer before his side dug out a win against Spurs, but the crisis now looming large feels some much more threatening.

Mourinho has contributed to the mood of crisis looming over him, with annoyance over the club’s refusal to sign the centre-back he was demanding in the transfer window backed up by his contentious decision to fine striker Anthony Martial for his late return to training after he attended the birth of his child last month.

In truth, Mourinho is giving off all the signs of a manager who suspects his time will soon be up as remarkably, history is threatening to repeat itself three years after Mourinho’s thumping fall from grace at Chelsea.

Back the, his squad turned against him just a few months after he guided the club to a Premier League title win that should have cemented his legacy as one of the game’s managerial greats and now, his high profile stars are refusing to perform for a manager who insists on burning bridges with so many he should be relying on.

The tried and trusted methods that delivered success for Mourinho at FC Porto, during his glorious first spell at Chelsea and then as he led Inter Milan are no longer working and it appears he has no Plan B.

In his heyday, Mourinho could rattle the cages of his players in the knowledge that their response would be give their Messiah wanted he wanted and to fight even harder for the cause in a desperate bid not to disappoint the tactical genius they felt fortunate to be working with, yet this is now a legend tarnished by failure.

In his previous two jobs at Real Madrid and Chelsea, Mourinho lost the respect of his dressing room, with the changing face of the game ensuring that celebrity players now hold the balance of power at top clubs hold his future in their hands.

Defeat against Tottenham tomorrow may not be the final nail in the United coffin of a manager who was rewarded with a contract extension last January, but it could be a tipping point that he will struggle to recover from.

If it is Pochettino, of all people, toasting a famous win on the Old Trafford touchline, Mourinho may well suspect fate has played a role in one of his final acts at the Theatre of Dreams.

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It was in the summer of 2016 that legendary United manager Alex Ferguson and Pochettino shared a lunch at the lavish Scott’s restaurant in London’s Mayfair, with a £114 bottle of Brunello di Montalcino red wine among the delights consumed at a lunch date that may well have long-term implications for the English game.

Louis van Gaal was still United manager as club director Ferguson convened a date with Pochettino and while the Spurs boss signed a new contract to stay with his current employers a few days later, his path to the keys of power at Old Trafford had been laid out.

“For me, this lunch was fantastic,” states Pochettino, as he reflects on his meeting with his ‘idol’. “It was my dream come true to meet Ferguson, who was always my inspiration and my reference

“To spend two hours with the greatest manager in the history of football was just amazing. You want to stop the time, to enjoy every moment and  there were lots of nuggets of information I took from it, as well as memories that will live with me forever

“He spoke to me about how he had to restructure everything when he arrived at United. His Manchester United side were like the Tottenham team that I inherited when I took over, and the chat reassured me about following my own path. It was one of the great moments for me.”

Much of the advice United’s greatest manager gave Pochettino would now be useful to Mourinho, yet the more mature and infinitely more successful of these two fascinating tacticians has long since been too immersed in his own ego to consider advice of others.

So even if the notion of replacing a manager who has won 20 major trophies with a coach still striving to lift his first title may seen ludicrous, the sand may be shifting at Old Trafford just in time for Pochettino to emerge as the outstanding candidate to succeed Mourinho.

The pressure on United CEO Ed Woodward to step aside from football related business and focus on signing yet more sponsorship deals is now reaching breaking point after his latest transfer window calamities and if a Director of Football with genuine football pedigree is installed at Old Trafford, Pochettino may be the man to finally fill the Ferguson void at Old Trafford.

Trusted ally Paul Mitchell, who worked with Pochettino at Southampton and then Tottenham, is being linked with the new role that looks set to be created at United and if that union is confirmed, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will know what’s coming next.

Pochettino will not give up the power he has been afforded at Spurs to become part of a United set-up that Mourinho has publicly admitted dilutes the authority of the man who should be making the key football decisions at the club, but a Director of Football who would be working with him could swing his decision.

Former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane may be the bookies favourite to replace Mourinho and continue United‘s spend, spend, spend transfer policy, yet Pochettino may soon emerge as a leader who is ready to restore the identity of a club that has lost its way in the post-Ferguson era.

Online Editors