Saturday, 31 May 2014

Was Mauricio Pochettino right to join Tottenham?

On Tuesday evening Mauricio Pochettino was finally announced as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur after weeks of topping the bookies charts as the favourite for the job. His only other serious competitor was Frank de Boer but in the end Daniel Levy and the Tottenham board have decided to take on former Southampton manager Pochettino, who has earned himself a 5 year contract at White Hart Lane.

The Argentinian will become Tottenham’s ninth manager in 13 years and he should be under no illusion of what is expected from him come the start of next season. Champions League qualification is a must.  Yet, sometimes not even that can do after former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp got the sack when he led Tottenham to 4th and their highest ever Premier League finish back in 2009.

Pochettino has lots to consider this summer
Football teams sack managers, it is something fans all over the world have come to terms with, increasingly more so in the last decade. Tottenham Hotspur and Daniel Levy are not the only ones. Since Daniel Levy took on the role of Executive Chairman in 2001 the following clubs have made managerial changes: Atletico Madrid – 12 times, Real Madrid – nine times, Barcelona – seven times, Inter Milan – 12 times and Bayern Munich – nine times. The difference between those teams and Tottenham in that period is that all the above have won the Champions League and/or a league title.

So the question is, has Pochettino made a good career choice by moving to Tottenham for next season?

‘Yes he has, well done Mauricio!’

Spending Power – Tottenham have more money than Southampton, this is obvious, after all the Saints were in League 1 only five years ago. This could well lead to Tottenham having a much better scouting system and network in place too. With money comes more influence and it would be fair to say that Tottenham certainly have the ability to attract a higher calibre of player than Southampton at the moment. It is reported that Pochettino will be given up to £50 million to spend this summer, much more money than he would have received at St Mary’s.

Trophies – Pochettino has yet to win anything since he became a manager, not an alarming fact when you consider he is only 42 and his first venture into football management with Espanyol was as recent as 2009. However, Tottenham offers him the chance to win trophies. Probably more of a chance than Southampton might in the near future. There is every chance that Tottenham could go all the way in the Europa League next season and lift the trophy. Yes! It does count!

Talented Squad – There are some big names in this Spurs side, names that seriously underperformed last season and with a little bit of help and encouragement could really set alight North London next season. Levy would most certainly have had Lamela and Soldado in the back of his mind when he hired Spanish speaking Pochettino to be the new boss. If Pochettino can mould this squad together and get them playing like a team rather than a bunch of expensively assembled individuals then the top-4 next season is realistic.

Youth Talent – Pochettino is a known admirer of giving youth players a chance in the first team. He did this at Southampton introducing the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Calum Chambers, Harrison Reed and Sam Gallagher. It is something his predecessor, Tim Sherwood, also encouraged during his brief time at White Hart Lane and it was a complete breath of fresh air to see a high profile team giving young English players like Harry Kane a run in the side. It won’t be as easy for Pochettino to do at a club like Tottenham, Sherwood wasn’t scared to do it, but look where he is now.

‘No Mauricio! What were you thinking?!’

Job Security – Pochettino should know what to expect walking into this job. Nine managers in 13 years tells you what kind of a man Levy is and he will demand results straight away. It seems to be quite a drop once you are ditched my Tottenham, Pochettino will hope that he does not follow the career paths of most of his predecessors. Indeed, Glenn Hoddle has hardly taken a shot at management since leaving Spurs, Jacques Santini only had one more job after Tottenham, Juande Ramos quite miraculously went on to Real Madrid but after a year found himself in Russia whilst Villas-Boas has gone from being the hottest property on the market to also ending up banished to Russia.
Is Baldini the man to blame for Spurs' troubles last season?

Franco Baldini – Baldini broke Tottenham’s transfer record three times last summer on Paulinho, Soldado and Lamela. The expensively assembled squad failed to impress under Villas-Boas and the Portuguese was given the boot. Baldini on the other hand is still at White Hart Lane. How happy Pochettino will be with a man working above him on transfers will remain to be seen. Arsene Wenger said last season “If a director of football buys the players, when they don’t work you are guilty for not using them well. When they work, he has bought well. I’m not against having people to help me buy and sell but I think the final decision has to always be with the manager.” The Arsenal manager is right and Pochettino’s job will hang on how well he and Baldini work together this summer and beyond.

Patience/Time - Champions League qualification is a must come the end of next season, especially if Levy is willing to give Pochettino £50 million to spend this summer. Obviously this would not have been the case if the Argentinian had stayed on the South Coast for another season. Another top half finish would have gone down fine with Saints fans come next May but the former Argentinian defender is obviously happy to feel a little bit of pressure.

Youth – I know I have already highlighted the Spurs academy as a bonus but arguably Southampton have the best youth structure in English football. Lest we forget, Spurs were able to spend above £100 million last summer as a result of a player from the Southampton academy. What’s more is that at Southampton Pochettino had free reign to play youth players, even better, he was encouraged to do so. It doesn’t look like the same will happen in his new role.

The Press – I jest here but Tottenham will require Pochettino to take all press conferences in English now he is their new manager. Could this be significant? Gone are the jokes, the possible mind games and the trusty translator. Pochettino will be laid bare for all to see come next season and it may affect his battle off the pitch as well as on it. Adios. 

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