This week, after what seemed like an age, Daniel Levy finally revealed Mauricio Pochettino as the new Spurs manager. This wasn’t a great surprise, the Argentine coach had been strong favourite to take the post for a week or two prior to the announcement. The news came a fortnight after Tim Sherwood’s sacking but in reality Spurs fans have been waiting since Andre Villas-Boas’ premature departure in December, to find out who would take charge on a more permanent basis.
I think the chairman’s made a good choice.
Earlier in the year I dreamed of Louis van Gaal coming to Spurs, then once that was impossible I switched my hopes to his protege Frank de Boer. When I first heard Pochettino linked with the position I was extremely dubious but the more I’ve read about him, the more I’ve come round to the Argentine. South American coaches are in vogue right now, after Pellegrini and Simeone won the Premier League and La Liga titles but the new Spurs manager is more than just a fashionable choice.
Rather like de Boer, Pochettino has received a great tactical grounding from one of the game’s legendary innovators – in this case compatriot Marcelo Bielsa. He has taken Biesla’s style and, through his experience managing in Spain and England, adapted it. His fast paced, energetic, attacking brand of football fits well with Tottenham traditions but, more importantly, he has proved it to be effective in the Premier League.
Maybe just as crucially, Pochettino has a track record of developing young players. While at Southampton he reorganised the club’s youth teams and brought through prospects such as Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. Of course, these players were already at the club and he can’t take all the credit for their success but he has certainly brought them on and shown a great deal of faith in them.
In the Argentine’s first management position at Espanyol, the same was true. He was forced to work within a tight budget and had to rely on promoting players from within, rather than big money signings. While there will be more money available at Spurs, without the backing of a petrochemical billionaire, the ability to develop and improve players will be key.
The current Tottenham squad has lots of potential but it was unrealised last year. In addition, Levy has invested heavily in the youth set-up and there are several young prospects who could be integrated into the first team – Kane, Fyers and Carroll to name just a few. With a season in England under their belts, maybe he can even revive the fortunes of fellow Spanish speaker, Roberto Soldado and compatriot Erik Lamela.
Pochettino has a reputation as a popular and charismatic, natural leader (characteristics certainly lacking in Tim Sherwood). As a player he was captain at both Espanyol and Bordeux, and former team-mates speak of a confident, well-liked character with a strong will to win.
He appears to have been popular with the Southampton players. Luke Shaw’s tweet on Tuesday, where he thanked his former manager for all the help he had given him, is evidence for this. On the other hand, when he has needed to be firm, he has been. He acted decisively to preserve team morale by sending his former Espanyol star and expensive signing, Dani Osvaldo, out on loan after an altercation with Jose Fonte.
There are, of course, question marks. His big money dealings in the transfer market have not always come off – the £12.8M Osvaldo is a good example. His exit from Espanyol, though understandable as he saw his best players sold off, is also a source of concern. He has no experience of managing at a big club and has not won any major trophies as a manager, however that sort of logic saw Spurs miss out on Rodgers and Martinez.
Pochettino’s methods require time for players to learn and a great deal of fitness, so initial results may not be fantastic. Let’s hope Levy, the media and Tottenham fans give him that time. With a Spurs squad brimming with untapped potential and a charismatic, tactically astute, attacking manager, I for one can’t wait for next season to begin.
Do you agree Pochettino was a good appointment? Should Spurs have gone for de Boer? Please let us know your opinion in the section below.