Over the course of the last two seasons, Mauricio Pochettino has delivered the best football in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur. But can we revere the Argentinean manager before he has won his first trophy?
When the former Southampton manager took the job at Tottenham, there were certainly reservations as it appeared he was down in the pecking order behind Frank de Boer and Louis van Gaal.
Retrospectively speaking, perhaps that good fortune of missing out on both de Boer and van Gaal was a blessing in disguise given Pochettino’s relative success in what he has achieved.
The Argentinean’s whole mantra is to promote youth from the stables within. In his first summer in charge, Pochettino had a total net spend deficit of £4m. In his second, it was a net profit of £15m. If it wasn’t for Daniel Levy’s, the Chairman, late splurge on Moussa Sissoko for £30m – which was not a player Pochettino desired – Spurs would have made another net profit. And, you guessed it, he once again made net profit in the transfer window just gone.
It is clear to see that Pochettino is a fan of plucking players from his youth ranks, or signing them for peanuts and coaching them into world-class players. Just take Dele Alli, for example: signed from MK Dons for £5m, beating off Liverpool, Alli is now a household name for both club and country – thanks to Pochettino.
No one can say for sure that Alli would not have made it as far as he is now without Pochettino, but the manager certainly accelerated the process and has worked closely in bringing the best out of him. He has a fantastic eye for talent, which he evidently learnt from his mentor, Marcelo Bielsa, currently at Lille.
Dele Alli was signed from MK Dons for a measly £5m
While promoting youth is an important factor for any manager and gives himself time if he is the one to produce them, this business is a results business and there is no getting away from that.
The Lilywhites finished sixth before Pochettino arrived with his new ideas and a way to help Spurs jump up the table and genuinely compete for a top-four finish.
In just two full seasons in charge, Spurs found themselves qualifying for the Champions League. An achievement that has not been reached since the 2010-11 season.
If you put it into context, what Spurs achieved in just two years was a jump in the right direction. Given their rivals are heavy-hitters in the transfer window and in Manchester City’s case, backed by a sovereign wealth fund, fans of the club were rightfully delighted.
However, it is now time for the next step for Pochettino. There was a case to be made that Spurs did somewhat ‘challenge’ for the Premier League title in Leicester and Chelsea’ title-winning seasons, but it wasn’t a strong one at all. And there was born Spurs’ affiliation with ‘putting the pressure on’.
Spurs have to challenge for the Premier League trophy this season. There is no two ways about it.
With Danny Rose coming out before the start of the season sharing his displeasure with the current wage structure at Tottenham, the England left back was publicly sharing what most players at Tottenham will privately agree with.
Players like Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have been stalwarts in Tottenham’s defence and two of the best defenders in England. They have been loyal to Spurs but it is now or never in terms of winning trophies with Spurs. They both know that if they were to leave they will have teams lined up who can offer three times the pay-packets they currently receive.
A player’s career is short and if they are within touching distance of winning trophies, like Spurs’ current crop are, they will do everything within their power to reach that promised land.
Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Alli will be grateful for Pochettino’s guidance and wisdom over the years, but they will take no hesitations over making a clever career move if they feel they cannot push on from Tottenham’s recent success.
There is no doubting Pochettino, at the age of 45, is a good man-manager. But it is now time to turn his progress into tangible success in the form of trophies. If Spurs go without a trophy yet again this year, their star players will start to make moves away and follow in Kyle Walker’s footsteps.
The Argentinean has a fight on his hands this season and with Tottenham playing their home games at Wembley, it is not going to be made easy for him. He has the first-team and peripheral squad to be able to properly challenge for silverware, but it is now time to deliver success with Tottenham before we can revere him as one of the Premier League’s finest.