Mauricio Pochettino critics who point to Tottenham trophy record are completely missing the mark

Evening Standard Sports 3 weeks ago

What a ride it was. There have already been enough post-mortems of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham during the death throes of his magnificent five-and-a-half-year reign, so now is the time to celebrate an incredible and unexpected journey.

When he replaced Tim Sherwood in May 2014, Pochettino inherited a bloated, ego-riven squad and found a club lacking direction and divided, 

with an increasingly apathetic fanbase. He quickly detected a fragile, ‘Spursy’ mentality.

The Argentine soon became a golden thread of unity, running from the boardroom to the terraces, imbuing the entire club with his values and philosophy, centred on work ethic and a strong sense of the collective. He took supporters to heights they never dreamed of. He leaves behind a far bigger club in every respect.

In his first interview as boss, Pochettino promised supporters he would “make them proud”. Job done. No Spurs fan will forget the joy and exhilaration.

Against the odds, Pochettino led Spurs to the brink of being kings of Europe, while operating on a fraction of his rivals’ resources and sticking to the club’s core traditions of attractive, attacking football and developing young players.

If the Champions League Final itself remains a bittersweet memory, the dreamlike run to Madrid will always be iconic, unforgettable. Particularly that night in Amsterdam, when Pochettino burst screaming onto the pitch, roared during the frenzied celebrations and wept afterwards in front of the TV cameras as he was confronted with the magnitude of what he had achieved.

Above any other occasion, the 3-2 win at Ajax will contribute to a lasting bond between Pochettino and Spurs supporters, but it was far from the only memorable moment he inspired, going all the way back to his first game in charge, when Eric Dier surged past West Ham goalkeeper Adrian in stoppage-time.

1/11 George Graham (1998-2001)

Former Arsenal boss George Graham was already at the club when Levy arrived in 2000, and had won the League Cup in 1999, but was sacked in ugly fashion in 2001.

There were so many other great matches, it is hard to pick a top 10, a top 20 even. Every fan will have their favourite. There was the dismantling of Jose Mourinho’s soon-to-be-champions Chelsea in January 2015, when Pochettino’s relentless pressing machine came of age in a 5-3 win at White Hart Lane.

Victory at Manchester City had Spurs dreaming of the title a year later and the following season, the last at the Lane, they were unbeaten at their famous old ground, along the way inflicting a first defeat in English football on Pep Guardiola.

A home victory over Arsenal signposted the long-awaited north London power shift to come and Pochettino beat Antonio Conte at his own game in a 2-0 win over Chelsea in January 2017.

And the joy of the final game at the Lane — a win over Manchester United and the parade of legends under a rainbow.

The move to Wembley was just another challenge met fearlessly by Pochettino, and even as Daniel Levy pulled the purse strings ever tighter, he continued to produce miracles.

Highs: Pochettino goes mad as Spurs book their Champions League Final spot at Ajax (Getty Images)

The scintillating victory over European champions Real Madrid followed, as well as a thrashing of Liverpool and further wins over Arsenal and Chelsea. There were victorious visits to Old Trafford and even Stamford Bridge, as vintage hoodoos were broken.

Even when Spurs made the unprecedented decision not to change their squad in summer 2018, the landmarks kept coming, notably those surreal nights at City and Ajax.

All of those victories ultimately belong to Pochettino, above anyone else.

While not blameless for his own demise, he has been the beating heart of the club’s transformation, his work the reason Mourinho has accepted Levy’s call at the third time of asking. Pochettino’s fingerprints are all over everything great about this Spurs era.

From Harry Kane’s emergence and all those records to Dele Alli’s rise; from the transformation of Heung-min Son to the majesty of Mousa Dembele — one of Pochettino’s “five geniuses”, who had Sami Khedira chasing shadows in the 2-2 draw at Juventus; from the rampaging peak of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose to the classy resolve of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld; from Christian Eriksen’s brilliance to Eric Dier’s dependability.

The only significant caveat to Pochettino’s remarkable work is Tottenham’s lack of silverware.

Despite leading them to two finals — the 2015 League Cup and the 2019 Champions League — and three semi-finals — two in the FA Cup and one in the League Cup — Spurs remain without a trophy since 2008 and the manager’s detractors have repeatedly used it as a stick to beat him with.

This criticism is to miss the point and anyone wondering if Pochettino’s reign is somehow less for the absence of silverware, or who believes it was not really an era at all, should think again.

The British philosopher, Alan Watts, argued that it is a mistake to view life as a journey, with an end destination firmly in mind. Watts instead saw existence as something playful, like music.

“All the time that ‘thing’ is coming,” Watts wrote. “It’s coming, it’s coming, that great ‘thing’ — the success you’ve been working for — but we cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. We thought of life as analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end. And the whole thing was to get to that end: success, or whatever it is. 

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Manchester United via Getty Imag
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Manchester United via Getty Imag
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I
Getty Images
PA/Gareth Fuller
AFP via Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I
Getty Images
PA/Gareth Fuller

But we missed the point all along. It was a musical thing and we were supposed to dance or sing.”

At the close, this is the best way to view Pochettino’s Spurs. Yes, Tottenham went on a journey under the 47-year-old, growing along the way, striving “step-by-step” to taste glory at the last.

Without silverware to show for it, it is easy to wonder if Pochettino’s pilgrimage never really reached its final destination. But it was a musical thing all along — and he made the Spurs fans dance and sing.


Source link
Read also:
Business Insider › Sports › 3 weeks ago
Jose Mourinho has been named as the new head coach of Tottenham Hotspur, just 11 hours after the club sacked long term boss Mauricio Pochettino. Tottenham released a statement at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday night announcing it had parted ways with Pochettino...
The Sun › Sports › 2 months ago
MAURICIO POCHETTINO says there is no point tearing into his Tottenham flops – because telling them they are “s**t* won’t solve anything. Pochettino has watched his side lurch into crisis after a dismal start to the campaign which has effectively...
Telegraph › Sports › 3 weeks ago
Unai Emery has expressed his “surprise” at Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking at Tottenham Hotspur, saying that Arsenal’s long-time rivals were doing “very good work” under Pochettino’s management.
The Sun › Sports › 3 weeks ago
MAURICIO POCHETTINO’S sacking has been slammed by Tottenham fans. Daniel Levy swung the axe this evening after seeing Spurs win just 25 points from their last 24 league games. But the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust criticised the timing of the...
Evening Standard › Sports › 2 months ago
A night which briefly promised to be the definitive turning point in Tottenham's season ended with Mauricio Pochettino at a crossroads.
Telegraph › Sports › 1 month ago
Mauricio Pochettino is heading towards the point of no return at Tottenham Hotspur as fears grow that he will not be able to salvage their season.
The Sun › Sports › 3 weeks ago
MAURICIO POCHETTINO is a Tottenham manager no more. Spurs have decided that 14th in the Premier League is simply not good enough for a team that was in the Champions League final just five months ago and have decided to part ways with the Argentine...
Evening Standard › Sports › 2 months ago
Mauricio Pochettino was at pains to paint the record 7-2 defeat by Bayern Munich as a freak, one-off result, insisting the scoreline did not match his side's performance, but there was nothing "freak" about Tottenham's 3-0 reverse at Brighton.
Evening Standard › Sports › 1 month ago
Mauricio Pochettino has warned Tottenham fans they could have to wait two years to see record signing Tanguay Ndombele at his best in England.
Telegraph › Sports › 3 weeks ago
Mauricio Pochettino’s belief was always that winning one trophy with Tottenham Hotspur would be the equivalent to lifting 10 with any of their top-four rivals.
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google
OR