Sky Sports analyst Paul Merson says that he thinks replacing Steve Bruce with Mauricio Pochettino this summer would be “a mistake”.
As the £300m takeover of Newcastle United edges ever nearer, speculation around who will be the manager for the long term has intensified.
Mauricio Pochettino has been the main name bandied about – much to the delight of the supporters, who are mostly keen to see the Argentine get the job. Another name mentioned is Rafael Benitez, with a lot of outlets claiming he could be set for a sensational return to St James’ Park – where it all ended so poorly a year ago.
Merson believes that, hiring Mauricio Pochettino in search of free-flowing attacking football rather than pragmatic defensive football, could even get Newcastle relegated.
“Newcastle’s new owners would be making a mistake if they get rid of Steve Bruce and get Mauricio Pochettino,” said Merson.
“The takeover looks like it’s about to happen, and new owners usually want their own man in place.
“But I think Steve Bruce has done a fantastic job. It’s a hard job and he’s done it so well. I’m a big fan of his. I think he’s perfect for them and should keep his job.
“Can you really see someone like Pochettino being a success there? He likes to open games up and tries to win with flair. Newcastle’s squad isn’t made for that.
“If they think it’s suddenly going to be Kevin Keegan football all over again they will end up getting relegated.
“It’s all very well saying the new owners will throw money at it. But how much? And who could you attract to transform that team overnight? It won’t be easy.
“At Newcastle you need to be realistic sometimes. You need to play with ten behind the ball sometimes, even at home.
“If they’re really going to replace Steve Bruce they need someone like Rafa Benitez who’s a bit more pragmatic. Not Pochettino.”
With respect to Merson, I wholeheartedly disagree with these comments. Yes, it’s an upheaval to turn this squad into one that can compete playing free-flowing attacking football – but Pochettino is known for taking on projects just like this one.
He’s also not stupid. If he doesn’t have the team to play attacking football, he’ll adjust and do what suits the squad he has. To be perfectly honest, I don’t see Pochettino taking over at Newcastle anyway.
If anyone comes in, for me – it’ll be the return of Rafa Benitez. There’s some serious unfinished business between Rafa and Newcastle – I expect him to want to right the wrongs…