Pochettino’s Time at Spurs
For many fans supporting Tottenham Hotspur has been something of a tantalizing experience, where the club gets so near and yet doesn’t quite make it to silverware. But a particularly purple patch in recent history came with the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino.
When Pochettino Arrived
The situation at Spurs before Pochettino wasn’t great. With 10 managers in 12 years the club had an air of the latter-day Roman Empire about it, with leaders being discarded at an alarming rate and no stability to speak of. Frustratingly, the Lilywhites were always on the cusp of great things but only managed two top-four finishes in a decade.
In 2014 they appointed Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino to try and stop the rot, and his five-year stint was far better than the previous seasons.
Achievements at the Club
Pochettino had previously been a manager at Southampton and had some experience with the English game when he moved to Spurs in 2014 on a five-year contract. From the start, the Argentine manager backed young blood, and it was just what the team needed. In addition to giving the likes of Eric Dier and Erik Lamela starts, he also backed a certain player named Harry Kane, which turned out to be a very good thing both when Pochettino was at the club and after he’d left.
His initial season with Spurs was good, reaching 5th in the table and making an appearance in the League Cup final, but 2015-6 was even better. In his second year at the club, Pochettino secured them 3rd place in the league table and guaranteed entry into the Champions League, and this was bettered the following season when Spurs were 2nd, just 7 points off title winners Chelsea. In the whole 2016-7 season the team was unbeaten at home, marking a degree of consistency that had been sorely lacking before the Argentine’s arrival.
The 2017-8 season saw Pochettino make a little bit of history, racking up his 100th Premier League win and doing so in the third-fastest time in EPL history. On the downside, Spurs didn’t win any silverware during his time but they came very close and enjoyed multiple Champions League appearances. Bearing in mind the chaotic short-termism that had existed before his arrival, things had turned around a lot for the Lilywhites.
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Pochettino’s style of coaching emphasizes fast passing and pressing play, looking to attack aggressively and unsettle opponents. The manager, as mentioned above, also favours backing young talent and he helped bring on lots of great players that proved beneficial not only to the club but the county too.
The Departure of Pochettino
It remains controversial to this day, as Spurs were still performing well almost up to the point of Pochettino’s departure. Indeed, in 2019 he guided the team to an epic comeback against Ajax that saw them compete in a first-ever Champions League final (while they ultimately lost out to Liverpool it was still a great performance overall).
Pochettino had signed a new five-year contract in 2018 that should have seen him stay with the club until 2023, but in November 2019 he was dismissed. At the time Spurs were only 14th in the league, but given his previous strong performances patience (a rare commodity when it comes to football managers) might well have been wiser. Looking at Manchester United or Arsenal’s glory days, both came with long-term managers. After he was dismissed by Spurs, the Argentine manager was linked to numerous top European sides including Manchester United and Real Madrid.
In his place was the self-named Special One José Mourinho, though the outspoken Portuguese manager’s tenure was only 17 months. The merry-go-round of managers that preceded Pochettino’s appointment might be about to start up again.
Should Spurs have Held onto Pochettino?
Pochettino was also once fancied to take over at Newcastle, but instead went to Paris Saint-Germain where he’s due to stay until at least 2022. At the time of writing, with just a few matches to go, his new team are 2nd, 1 point behind league leaders Lille.
Meanwhile, Spurs were outside the Champions League places in 2019-20, and are currently unlikely to finish in the top four this year. The ex-Tottenham manager is flourishing, and while Spurs aren’t in dire straits they aren’t hitting the same heights they did under Pochettino.
The man himself is on the record as saying he wants to go back someday, so maybe the Argentine will return and bag himself, and Spurs, some silverware. In the meantime, having just defenestrated Mourinho, the club has to decide whether it’s going to back a long-term successor or return to a series of short-lived managerial tenures.