The rational case behind a Mauricio Pochettino reunion at Tottenham

Ah, Tottenham Hotspur, there’s all the time one thing occurring, is not there?

Spurs’ season has unravelled on the seam during the last 10 days. FA Cup humiliation by the hands of Championship aspect Sheffield United was unhealthy sufficient, a meek Champions League elimination to AC Milan earlier this week took comprehensible hysteria excessive.

Wednesday evening’s environment was the third actually mutinous event at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since inauguration. The first noticed 10,000 returning followers chant for chairman Daniel Levy to go away in May 2021, earlier than 50,000 extra turned on head coach Nuno Espirito Santo 5 months later for a questionable substitution.

When Antonio Conte – his aspect desperately in want of a aim to avoid wasting their season, however having simply been diminished to 10 males – regarded again at his bench on Wednesday evening and felt compelled to interchange ahead Dejan Kulusevski with centre-back Davinson Sanchez, palpable apathy was vocal hostility.

Boos echoed and bounced off the partitions, an enviornment particularly designed to amplify acoustics created a bowl of bitterness.

Perhaps extra startlingly had been the chants which adopted. Those unmistakable Pilot lyrics had been firstly sparse, however come full-time, they had been reverberating by way of the stadium’s bowels, screamed into the evening sky alongside Tottenham High Road.

“He’s magic, you understand, Mauricio Pochettino! He’s magic, you understand, Mauricio Pochettino!”


For the primary time since his departure in 2019, Pochettino’s identify was sung to the north London heavens.

90min understands he can be concerned about returning to Tottenham. It’s now a matter of when Conte vacates his publish somewhat than if.

There are different names Spurs are contemplating for the publish – Luis Enrique has been linked to the job, whereas Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi and Brentford’s Thomas Frank are additionally admired.

The noise round Pochettino has quietened again down a bit during the last 48 hours, however he stays a viable candidate. The massive drawback, nevertheless, is shedding your self within the theatre of all of it and seeing it as a wedding of comfort, a re-coupling of desperation. As 90min’s Jack Gallagher as soon as mentioned, “Emotionally, Spurs followers are 4 pints deep always. Pochettino is an ideal match for that.”

But there can be some methodology behind the insanity of going again to an ex.

Let’s reassign the identify of the membership Pochettino managed between 2014 and 2019. Say it had been a aspect of comparable stature to Spurs – a Roma, a Valencia, someplace between a Borussia Dortmund and an RB Leipzig. He guided them to a report factors tally which was simply in need of profitable the home title, took them to a Champions League closing towards all odds, revolutionised a whimpering staff id having discovered a membership in disaster.

It fizzles out after half a decade as most fashionable jobs do, and after a yr out of the sport, Pochettino is lastly given the keys to a super-club job in PSG. His efforts are par-for-the-course, he is dismissed, however they’ve the identical institutional issues transferring ahead in his absence anyway.

That’s precisely the kind of managerial candidate Tottenham can be taking a look at – a confirmed challenge supervisor who has tasted the elixir of the elite however will unlikely have a powerful need to return for seconds so quickly.

You cannot utterly ignore the context, nevertheless. Spurs are an emotional membership, Pochettino an much more emotional human being – 4 pints deep, 4 pints deep.

They drifted aside as a result of they had been burned by their co-existential flame. His identify has been uttered each week by followers and media alike even within the three-and-a-half years with out him. That undoubtedly issues within the case towards him.

Jose Mourinho

A flag adorning Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium throughout Jose Mourinho’s first dwelling sport as head coach / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

There are different doubts – actual doubts, not those about whether or not he is ok a coach to win a Carabao Cup – although they do largely have caveats.

It went below the radar that Pochettino couldn’t spring forth one other tactical evolution in his closing two years at Spurs. The closest he got here was the interrupted integration of the gifted however flawed Tanguy Ndombele. When the Premier League caught up with Tottenham’s urgent, they weren’t particular anymore.

But this could possibly be attributed to 2 big components. An 18-month interval with none new signings was an enormous cause why their run to the Champions League closing was one on fumes, one which left everybody concerned with the membership utterly spent and in determined want of a getaway to the uninhabited reaches of this godforsaken planet.

Pochettino’s different main criticism was his belittling of cup competitions. He insisted that profitable a home trophy wouldn’t ‘change the life’ of Tottenham, that silverware served to unnecessarily enhance gamers’ egos.

And but regardless of this rampant disparaging, he got here nearer to ending the membership’s trophy drought than the serial winner managers who adopted in his wake. In 5 seasons, Pochettino’s Tottenham reached 5 semi-finals and two finals. Only as soon as had been his Spurs eradicated from a contest by a staff from a decrease division (2019/20’s Carabao Cup defeat to Colchester on penalties). It’s occurred twice already since.

The want to interrupt this duck is extra paramount than ever. It can be a lot, a lot more durable for that very same nonchalant rhetoric to fly, to ‘throw’ the cups.

There’s additionally an argument that Pochettino’s squads had been too skinny to keep up pushes on 4 fronts. The identical can’t be mentioned of the rosters assembled by Jose Mourinho or Conte, the latter of whom has refused to essentially rotate his staff throughout an extremely packed schedule.

Tottenham are additionally at a barely totally different stage of their membership growth cycle now. They had a web spend of £90m throughout Pochettino’s – a sum laughably dwarfed by all of their ‘massive six’ rivals bar Chelsea, who had been banned for one summer time window in that interval.

Pochettino navigated Spurs by way of their transitional interval from White Hart Lane to Wembley to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He had a say within the designs of their billion-pound floor and their Hotspur Way coaching floor. His fingerprints stay in a bodily sense in addition to metaphorical, however scarcely had the prospect to work with the identical instruments his unsuited successors had.

While these could also be good causes to renew a earlier challenge, returning to the previous will all the time have pitfalls. But there’s a simply trigger past nostalgia and romance, at the least.

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