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

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Scott Murray
·5-min read
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Photograph: Dave Winter/REX/Shutterstock
Photograph: Dave Winter/REX/Shutterstock

POCH ON

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.

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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.

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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).

QUOTE OF THE DAY

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

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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.

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