giovedì 5 giugno 2014

Could Paul Clement be Mauricio Pochettino's successor?

Mauricio Pochettino has been confirmed as new Tottenham manager. Southampton could not convince their manager to stay instead of moving to Spurs. The Argentinian manager toke over Tim Sherwood’s reign after he were sacked at the end of the season. While Pochettino is now thinking on how to resurrect the Spurs this move leaves a vacant place at St Mary's Stadium. The Saints will be linked to a lot of options to pick Pochettino’s successor and rumors already claim that Southampton are considering Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, former team’s player Dan Petrescu and former Glasgow Celtic boss Neil Lennon as possible replacements. Could Paul Clement be one of those? Many clubs had been monitoring Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant coach progress recently and expressed their interest in him. The Englishman’s hype developed at a speed that recently made a comparison with Andre Villas-Boas’curve.  Clement told that he will begin his managing career at a lower level than Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, the last three clubs at which he has worked. He has been linked to Brighton following Oscar García’s resignation and to West Bromwich Albion’s job but a place as Pochettino’s successor with the Saints could be more attractive to start building his own legacy. Clement doesn’t have first team coaching experience but worked alongside Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout at Parc des Princes, Stanford Bridge and Santiago Bernabeu. The former secondary school teacher is suited to work inside a big boys’ dressing room and dealing with lower egos as he could meet at Southampton should not be a total shock. He knows the importance of good communication while organisation and workout planning are not unknown to former Chelsea’s academy coach. The 42-year-old background makes him a head coach who trusts in youth, making him a perfect fit to succeed Pochettino, a man that has elevated several academy’s players as James Ward-Prowse into the first team. Clement could easily insert himself in a similar kind of philosophy. Obviously, there is a bit of risk to appoint a rookie with no previous managing experience but it would be the same level of risk Southampton already faced when they choose Nigel Adkins, a former physio became caretaker manager at Scunthorpe in November 2006, or when they replaced him with Pochettino. Furthmore, Clement could install the same high-tempo pressing style that was the centerpiece of Pochettino’s philosophy. The Argentinian’s approach were built to force opponents to concede possession in their own half of the pitch. Ancelotti too runs this way and Clement could easily have taken that into his coaching thoughts. “I've learned so much," he told about the experience to work alongside Ancelotti. Real Madrid was able both to play with pace and to keep the ball, depending on the situation. With the Merengues, Ancelotti started this season with a classic 4-2-3-1, similar to the shape they utilized last term under Jose Mourinho. Then, he played hybrid 4-3-3 in which he deployed Cristiano Ronaldo as second forward with no much defensive duties, moving the shape in a de facto 4-4-2 without possession. Ancelotti evolved and showed his versatility both at Chelsea and PSG. With the Blues, the Italian manager adapted the initial 4-3-3 into a 4-2-3-1 during the campaign there, while in Paris he started playing a Christmas tree that became an offensive 4-4-2 during the way. Clement would have no problems to made Southampton playing this way as the Saints were accustomed to favour a similar pattern under Pochettino. In fact, Pochettino's classic style of play shares traits with Ancelotti. Often regarded as a product of Marcelo Bielsa’s coaching three, Pochettino is a bit more pragmatist than his mentor as he showed making his side able to attack keeping possession but also pressing heavily in the middle with the pair of Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama and counter-attacking quickly when they had chances in open play. At St Mary’s, Pochettino created a positive and attractive side playing a proactive kind of football, in a way Bielsa could like, sometimes deploying as many as four offensive players in the same pattern, but he also has been more conservative when it needed. Adaptability was the key factor once again and it is precisely what Clement learned under Ancelotti. Southampton’s board of directions will need to act quickly to hire a new manager. Poyet, Petrescu and Lennon all are proven veterans.  But picking Clement would represent a more interesting option. That fact that Saints are also expecting to lose Jesus Perez, Toni Jimenez and Miguel D’Agostino, Pochettino’s coaching staff members, who would join him at White Hart Lane, could made Clement able to hire his own staff, bringing on people loyal to him and up to allow him to make the transition more easily. At the end, Clement is far from a finished product but at Southampton he could have the time to raise up with no pressure on his side. Being suited to deal with big egos as Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo he could manage an awkward character as Dani Osvaldo – assuming he will be back from his loan to Juventus. Saints chairman Ralph Krueger should definitively take a look to Clement. He should write Clement’s name on top of his replacements’ list. Clement is young and ambitious and could match the club’s ambition that Pochettino revived just before he leaves out.

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