When I heard that Mauricio Pochettino has been fired from his job as Tottenham manager, my mind flashed back to the situation in the red side of North London eighteen months ago.
As Arsenal sifted through candidates to select their first manager post Arsené Wenger’s momentous departure, one name on their list stuck out to me. Mikel Arteta, former Arsenal captain and current assistant manager at Manchester City, seemed perfect.
Had they appointed him, they might not have attained instant success, but they certainly would have been better prepared for the future, and under the right circumstances, could have allowed Arteta a tenure as successful and as long as his predecessors’.
Instead, they chose Unai Emery and turned their attention to winning now.
Pochettino Era at Spurs
You can see the similarities of this situation with the one Spurs faced a couple of days back. Even though it would have not perhaps been best for the present to keep Pochettino, the fact of the matter is that with a larger budget and more time, he could have taken them to the highs they achieved last season. Besides, there are very few managers in the world that can do what he can – and none of them are looking for jobs.
Unlike Mourinho, their new manager Poch has a set philosophy, one he implements religiously; his fondness of pressing football along with his keen interest in being brave on the pitch, especially through the use of youth players is responsible for a lot of the club’s success in the modern era.
Under him, Spurs have had their three best finishes in Premier League history, the best being in the 2016-17 season, where they came within seven points of the title.
Last season in Europe, Tottenham swept away Dortmund in the round of sixteen, defeated historic English champions Manchester City in the quarterfinals and produced a thrilling comeback against Ajax, all en-route the club’s first ever Champions League final.
The likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Heung-Ming Son would not have been the players they are today had it not been for the opportunities given to them by the Argentinian manager. Their gratitude to their now former boss could be seen through their social media posts post Pochettino’s firing.
At the end of the day, he was the one that could have taken them into the future and made them a club fit for their magnificent new stadium.
Did Levy Miss a Trick?
However, let's look at the real reason why Poch was ousted from North London.
Daniel Levy, the chairman, has been at loggerheads with the Argentinian for long now, mostly over the former’s reluctance to spend in the transfer market. Though they did spend big on players like Ndombele and Sessegnon this summer, it should be noted that this spree came after a seventeen-month transfer drought.
An experienced manager like Pochettino knows that every squad requires refreshing – something that was not happening at Tottenham (largely due to Levy).
The chairperson has a reputation for being a tough negotiator – not just with opposing clubs, but also with his own managers and players. As far back as July, Pochettino had expressed his unhappiness over bickering with the chairperson for players in the transfer window.
Despite once sharing a special bond, relations between the manager and the chairperson soured dramatically over the last six months as a slump in Tottenham’s form along with a lacklustre transfer window brought things to a head between the two.
Players too had reportedly been unhappy with the chairperson and expressed jealousy of his wages. Levy, ironically enough, emphasises a tight wage budget for player personnel. With the building animosity between the pair, the chairman had perhaps hoped that the Argentinian would quit, and had he not been fired by the end of the season, he probably would have.
Pochettino is a generational talent and should have never been put in a position where he wanted to quit, no matter how bad the results were.
He does not however go without blame here; his lack of interest and frustration with the club had been becoming obvious, and his frequent hints at leaving the club was not helping the cause. All I’m saying is that he is far from the root of the problem.
Managers will come and go with far more regularity if Levy continues to tighten the purse strings in the manner that he does. His pairing with Mourinho, a manager notorious for spending big, should be a treat for the cameras, but hardly one for the supporters of the Lilywhites. I hate to say it, but I can’t imagine this kind of situation happening at all had it not been for Daniel Levy’s shoddy decision-making and stubborn manner.
If you ask me, Tottenham fired the wrong man.
(The author is a school student who follows football, when he’s not finishing his homework. On a side note, he also answers to the name ‘Pele’ after his mother nicknamed him that for troubling her a bit much from the womb.)
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