Replacing Poch with tactics to make George Graham look like Ossie Ardiles

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Scott Murray
·5-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photograph: Dave Winter/REX/Shutterstock
Photograph: Dave Winter/REX/Shutterstock


When Daniel Levy took over at Tottenham Hotspur in 2001, it felt like the club were in a state of suspended animation. One of the grandest institutions in the country, all they’d won in the previous nine years was a solitary League Cup. Things had to change. And just look at them now! Two glory-strewn decades down the line, not only have they won another League Cup, they’ve also come third in a two-horse race in the Premier League, behind a 5,000-1 shot and Arsenal, and forgotten to turn up for a Big Cup final, though they did qualify for it. Well done, Daniel, it’s been one hell of a blast.

Watch: Upper body and core workout

But in the interests of balance, it’s only fair to point out that nobody is perfect. Some critics have been questioning Levy’s 2019 decision to defenestrate Mauricio Pochettino and replace him with a man whose tactics make George Graham look like Ossie Ardiles and whose results make Ossie Ardiles look like Bill Nick. And while Spurs faff about, Pochettino has sauntered off, hand in pocket, whistling, to PSG where he’s already won one trophy and is looking good to land Big Cup having last night dispatched holders Bayern Munich in another of those matches the hipster cognoscenti won’t have enjoyed because tactics went out the window and it was fun.

Down the line, Manchester City may have something to say about this. So may Chelsea. So, in theory, may ersatz 2019 Liverpool tribute act Liverpool, who will at least give another of those famous comebacks a go tonight, bless them. But with PSG three matches away from the Boys Own fairytale of becoming the first sovereign state to win Europe’s top club championship, things are looking very promising indeed for the former Spurs boss right now. Especially as favourites City will almost certainly find yet another wild and wonderful way to blow it in Europe, if not tonight in Dortmund then in the semi in Paris, we can feel it in our bones. Hey, who knows, maybe they’ll freeze in the League Cup final too, in which case chalk one more success up for Big Dan.


Join Scott Murray for Liverpool 2-0 Real Madrid (3-3 agg), and Barry Glendenning for Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Manchester City (2-5 agg).


You’ll see a change now – see the banners around the club [stadium] are not red any more. We’ve looked into this. Some of the players mentioned that in the split-second decision you have to look over your shoulder to see if your teammate is there or not then the red shirt is on a red background with red seats” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær brings back memories of those grey shirts at the Dell, almost exactly 25 years on.

The Manchester United squad in action at Old Trafford
The Manchester United squad in action at Old Trafford. Photograph: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images


It’s Football Weekly!


“Fiver is guilty of just eating the shooting stats in Brighton vs Everton match. Expected goals reveals just very boring game 1.16 vs 0.31 so it should have been 1-0 ish which it was … ish” – Tim Lynch.

“Did Paul Lindauer feel like a bully? [Monday’s Fiver letters] I did in a similar situation. There was a kid’s game about to start in the park and no ref; hi, I’m qualified, I’ll do it. Well thank you. While some of the kids were checking out the dandelions, one bigger kid was bustling his way through everyone, and not in accordance with the laws. After awarding a few free-kicks against him, I decided he needed some guidance; I wagged my finger at him as I told him that he couldn’t just push others out of his way. His response was to burst into tears and run over to his mother (not so tough, now, eh?) Oh dear, what a brute, dark looks from other parents. Sigh. So much for being a nice guy. (Didn’t bother about leaving the field without permission ...) – Allan Clark.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Allan Clark.


Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela has been handed a 10-match Uefa ban for ‘racist behaviour’ at Rangers.

Mikel Arteta says he refuses to imagine a first Arsenal season without Europe since 1995-96 next year. “I don’t want to put it in my mind or transmit it to any of the players or anybody at the club,” he cheered.

Neymar’s contract extension talks seem set to go smoothly. “I don’t think this is even a topic any more; I obviously feel very comfortable, at home at PSG,” he purred.


Has a player played more games in a league season than their team? The Knowledge has the answer

Big interview: Sid Lowe talks to Fede Valverde: ‘You take a corner and there’s an animal next to you’

Marcus Christenson on the Swedish fans trying to create an atmosphere … despite only eight being allowed in a ground.

‘Hostile takeover’ and smashed glass: John Duerden reports on the turmoil in Pakistan’s football

Brighton’s Aileen Whelan gets her chat on with Louise Taylor: ‘I’ll concentrate on child psychology after retiring’

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


Watch: Lower body and core workout