Tottenham Hotspur currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League table, just three points behind fourth-placed Manchester United. The Lilywhites progressed through the UEFA Champions League group stage also and still remain in the FA Cup. Harry Kane is on fire, scoring 16 goals in the Premier League which is 12 more than Spurs’ next-highest scorers (Hojbjerg, Son and Bentancur). So with it all still to play for this season, why is their so much talk about the potential of a manager change?
Current boss Antonio Conte isn’t afraid to publicly express his thoughts about the club and the board, it seems that the Italian’s frustration levels regarding the lack of backing are increasing and his no-filter-like approach with the media has created some tension within the club. Furthermore, on the pitch the performances have been less than exciting but Conte has always been a manager where if his side is winning, it is great and If his side isn’t getting the results then it is terrible, due the defensive nature and pragmatic playstyle. After three defensive-minded coaches in Nuno Espirito Santo, Jose Mourinho and now Conte, Spurs fans seem to miss the attacking, exciting football that Mauricio Pochettino once had Spurs playing.
Last updated 31/03/2023
Pochettino’s Time at Spurs
In May 2014, Mauricio Pochettino began his Spurs journey, replacing Tim Sherwood on a five-year contract. The former Southampton boss acquired six players during his first season at White Hart Lane, spending just shy of £50M In an attempt to strengthen his squad.
The most notable signings that season were Dele Alli, Eric Dier and their most expensive purchase, Ben Davies from Swansea City for £11.1M. On the field during the 2014/15 campaign, Poch led Spurs to a fifth-place finish in the Premier League and a UEFA Europa League run to the round of 16.
Tottenham also reached the EFL Cup final where they were beaten 2-0 by Chelsea. This is also the same season that a certain Harry Kane burst onto the scene, scoring 21 goals in the Premier League alone. Therefore, it was a rather promising first season in charge for Pochettino.
Mauricio’s second season started with the signing of Heung-min Son for €30M and Toby Alderweireld for €16M. Both signings developed into vital players for Pochettino and were regarded as some of the best in their position during the Argentine’s spell. This season saw Spurs achieve their highest Premier League finish ever, ending the campaign in a record third place.
That record wasn’t in place for much longer as the following season saw Spurs finish in second place on 86 points. Poch had created an attacking side that played free-flowing football that excited the Spurs fans, Harry Kane scored 29 goals, Dele Alli scored 18 and Son chipped in with 14 goals that season.
Another third-place finish in the 2017/18 season saw Pochettino become one of the most respected managers in the league and consecutive Champions League campaigns should have seen the investment into the squad go up a level. However, with the departures totalling €103.8M and the arrivals adding up to €123.5M in 2017/18, you would have expected more first-team signings that would improve the starting XI.
The 2018/19 season will live long in the memory of Spurs fans as they reached their first UEFA Champions League final. It is quite clear that throughout Pochettino’s time at Spurs he was working with minimal resources and it can easily be argued that he overachieved given the squad he had. In that summer transfer window, Spurs didn’t bring in a single player. That signifies to the manager that there is a clear lack of ambition to achieve success in the form of silverware, almost suggesting that UCL football was enough each season. Spurs went on to lose the final 2-0 to Liverpool but their was a sense that this was a huge moment for the club, an opportunity to push on and progress.
The following season saw Pochettino get sacked as early as November due to “extremely disappointing” domestic results according to Daniel Levy. This is bearing in mind that he had taken Spurs to a UCL final just five months earlier and challenged at the top of the Premier League for multiple years …
Should Pochettino go Back?
Pochettino’s era at Spurs was a long-term project with the plan of developing youth into important players. I personally don’t believe that the current Spurs squad is set up for a Mauricio Pochettino return, it would be perfect for a manager who can walk through the door and provide instant success similar to what Thomas Tuchel did for Chelsea. It can be argued that the majority of Spurs’ best players are getting older and there is a large amount of players who still remain from the initial Pochettino project.
A UCL final is a huge milestone to build on as a manager and as a club, so to sack him shortly after that achievement and then bring him back in a few years later doesn’t really make much sense. Technically it would mean that this period of swapping and changing managers was a complete waste of time and the squad is full of players who were brought in during different leadership stints. I think that Spurs should stick with Conte and back him to succeed, but the clear lack of strategy at Spurs is concerning.
Pochettino had a wonderful career as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, but I am sure that he will be frustrated by the lack of support throughout his time at the club and especially when he was sacked in what seemed to be an erratic decision from a neutrals perspective. He could return in the future to complete unfinished business, but I doubt that will be any time soon.
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