Having improved the fortunes of Espanyol, Southampton and now Tottenham Hotspur, it’s time for Mauricio Pochettino to improve his own fortunes and profile – with a move to a bigger European club.
There is a glaring possibility that the likes of Real Madrid and PSG would try to tempt the Argentine away from Spurs in the Summer. And a move to any of this two European powerhouses will afford the 45-year-old football manager an opportunity to glamorize his burgeoning coaching reputation with trophies.
Pochettino started his managerial career at Espanyol in 2009, after a brief spell with the ladies’ team as an assistant manager. At Espanyol, the former Paris Saint-Germain defender was tasked with the responsibility of saving the Spanish outfit from getting relegated, with the club placed 18th on the log.
Despite his players’ foot-dragging and only being able to avail themselves of two training sessions prior to his debut game against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the Spanish Cup, Pochettino was able to coach his side to a 0-0 draw. He then led Espanyol to a 2-1 victory over Barcelona in a league derby at the Camp Nou, ending a 27-year winless streak in the competition for Espanyol at Barcelona’s home. And they eventually finished the season in a comfortable mid-table position.
However, things went downhill for Pochettino and Espanyol in 2012, and the club terminated his contract by mutual consent at the end of November the same year. Espanyol were bottom on the log with just nine points from 13 matches – when Pochettino left the club. It then became evident, it would be difficult for a good manager like Pochettino to keep excelling – without adequate financial backing. With the Argentinian complaining about the financial restrictions being ladened on him before his dismissal.
His admirable coaching philosophy didn’t go unnoticed, and Southampton appointed him as their manager in January 2013.
He carried over to the St Mary’s: his system of high pressing, imposition of a specific tactical style on all of the club’s team from the senior side down to youth level, attending training sessions to receive updates from all levels, a preference for 4–2–3–1, and the promotion of players from the academy to the first team.
While at Southampton, his distinctive approach led the Saints to famous victories against other top league sides, including a 3-1 home win over Liverpool and a 2-1 success against Chelsea also at St Mary’s.
For those who need a refresher, in Mauricio Pochettino’s first full season at Southampton, he led the team to an eight-placed finish, and helped the Saints to 56 points (a record highest point tally in the Premier League for the club at the time).
But it was at Spurs that Pochettino really endeared himself to the hearts of football lovers with his mesmerizing tactical approach to games and his outstanding ability in developing young players – bringing out the hidden potentials in them.
His passion for developing young players led him into starting an academy graduate in Harry Kane at the expense of Spanish international Roberto Soldado, a gamble which paid off; as Harry Kane went on to score 31 goals across the campaign, 21 of which came in the league, and was named the PFA Young Player of the Year. And the rest they say is history.
Since his first year with Spurs, Pochettino has led the club to an improved finish in the Premier League, propelling them to sixth, fifth, third and then second last season.
The Argentinian cherish a very high pressing, attacking brand of football. He is one of the few managers that intructs his team to build from the back, intimidate and unsettle opponents with a quick-press system and work the ball gleefully into the box. This characteristics well enough places him as the ‘Mr Right’ for any top European club with utmost reverence for attacking football.
Also, players he has managed have praised his man-mangement approach; with the manager quick to encourage players to improve on their self development as well as helping them to improve physically, technically and mentally. Clubs like Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich with plenty of big name players – will definitely benefit from his quality man-management approach.
Though, his current deal with Spurs worth £5.5m per year won’t run out until 2021, his chances of winning silverwares with the club are extremely low compared to coaching other European juggernauts.
Spurs Chairman, Dany Levy, will be desperate to keep hold of the Argentinian. But recent successes; especially Pochettino’s victories over Manchester United and Arsenal combined with his side’s impressive showing at Juventus will definitely attract the likes of Real and PSG presently experiencing precarious propinquity with their respective managers.
Spurs’ new stadium that will be ready for use next year cost a whooping £850million, and history reminds us of how Arsenal and Arsené Wenger struggled (especially with quality player recruitment) after moving to the Emirates Stadium. Such struggles might also befall Spurs, who are not the wealthiest in terms of earnings and financial backup.
To put things into prospective, Spurs are ranked eleventh in the 2016-17 Deloitte Football Money League rankings announced in January this year for clubs charting the massive revenues in Europe.
Pochettino’s philosophy and attacking approach will continue to win over admirers, but it’s time to add trophies to the profile, and only a move to any of Europe’s football heavyweights will guarantee loads of that (trophies).