Mauricio Pochettino: is Spurs boss the man for Chelsea or Man Utd?
Fear at Tottenham must be that if they do not cash in this season, their young coach could jump ship
Amid growing excitement at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur's unexpected but genuine title challenge and the likely prospect of Champions League football next season there is an undercurrent of trepidation over the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentine has a burgeoning reputation after masterminding Spurs's march up the table. But the fear for Lilywhites fans is that they may only have one shot at glory under the current regime and that if things do not end well this season, their young and ambitious manager could be tempted to head for pastures new.
Pochettino walked out on Southampton with a year left on his contract in order to take over at Spurs. He is now two years into a five-year deal at White Hart Lane and has established himself as an elite coach, quite possibly the first Spurs boss to finish above Arsenal since Gerry Francis in 1995
Already this year, he has been touted as the answer to Manchester United's problems and is now widely reported to feature on Chelsea's managerial shortlist.
His attacking ethos and faith in youth earmark him as a man who is "cut from United cloth", says Kris Voakes, of Goal.com, echoing the sentiments of Jeremy Wilson in the Daily Telegraph who earlier this month said: "It is hard to think of many better candidates for the United job."
But if Pochettino's head is not turned by United, then what about Chelsea? The Evening Standard describes him as "a strong and credible contender to take over at Chelsea next season".
His "understated intensity" would work well at Stamford Bridge, says the paper, but his real attraction lies in his "far less abrasive image than Jose Mourinho and his willingness to provide more opportunities for young players than the Portuguese".
However, Spurs fans could have their controversial chairman Daniel Levy to thank if they do keep hold of Pochettino. He is unlikely to let the manager leave, says the Daily Mail. "Levy's stubbornness - particularly when dealing with Chelsea - would make any deal a non-starter," it claims.
And not everyone is convinced Pochettino would succeed away from White Hart Lane, anyway. Seb Stafford-Bloor, writing for FourFourTwo, believes he has been able to mould Spurs in a way that would not be easy to replicate at Man United or Chelsea.
Spurs are evolving "with his managerial profile in mind", he argues. United, on the other hand, "need a star-wrangler, a vibrant personality; someone whose ego can flow into the post-Ferguson fractures, who possesses a squad-taming gravitas and also the compulsion to play along in the big soap opera."
The same can be said for Chelsea, where even Mourinho succumbed to the dressing-room vapours.
Pochettino is not the man for that kind of a job, insists Stafford-Bloor. "He belongs in a tracksuit on a training pitch, building careers rather than maintaining them. He is the sort of manager who specialises in steady, evolutionary change and who needs both the support of a logical atmosphere and the latitude of a club who exist outside the game's rarefied air."