Since Sunday it’s been pretty clear that Mauricio Pochettino would become the next Spurs manager and today the speculation has been confirmed.
The reaction from Tottenham’s support seems to indicate that the majority of fans are behind the appointment but as is always the way, there are some very vocal naysayers.
Both Pochettino and the other realistic candidate — Frank de Boer — have question marks on their resumes where answers would ideally be. Yet De Boer’s four Dutch titles are taken as proof amongst some that he is a proven winner, while Pochettino is dismissed as lacking experience.
It should be remembered that Christian Gross won six titles in Switzerland. De Boer’s achievements are impressive but a well-run Ajax should always win the Dutch league, much in the same way that Bayern Munich’s size dictates that they only finish second in Germany when they are not performing at their best.
Pochettino has never been at a club with a realistic shot at winning something or even qualifying for the Champions League, but he’s arguably been as successful as De Boer, as he’s overseen the journey of relegation-threatened sides to the right end of the table.
Since joining Southampton he’s proved that he can get his side playing attractive and effective football in the Premier League. Pochettino has done this while utilising the young players available to him, with the likes of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez making giant strides under his leadership.
These are qualities badly needed at Spurs. Again, some dismiss these achievements, arguing that Pochettino merely inherited a freakishly talented crop of youngsters at Southampton. It’s true that there are some good players in that Southampton squad but the one he’ll inherit at Tottenham is stronger. Christian Eriksen is a better player than Lallana, while Erik Lamela has more raw talent than Rodriguez.
There are bigger questions regarding Pochettino’s abilities in the transfer market. Southampton spent considerably in the summer to bring in three players. Only Dejan Lovren was an unqualified success, with the jury still out on Victor Wanyama and Pablo Osvaldo proving a highly avoidable disaster.
This of course, could prove a moot point if Daniel Levy doesn’t support Pochettino by buying the players he wants. He failed to sign Joao Moutinho for Andre Villas-Boas two summers ago, leaving the then Spurs manager high and dry without a midfield playmaker.
We all know what happened to AVB and this is another area where Levy must do better. The chairman has proved so trigger-happy that Pochettino will be under pressure from the media as soon as his side suffers a blip in form. Levy must ensure that the manager and his squad know that more patience will be afforded on this occasion.
Pochettino has been given a five-year contract but that may be more to do with the Argentine being in a strong bargaining position than any intent on Levy’s part. Whatever the reality, Levy has to hold his nerve. Even if his new manager does improve Tottenham next season, finishing in the top four will be tough.
Last season’s Champions League qualifiers will all be looking to strengthen their squad this summer, while Manchester United will surely make major improvements. Only Everton look likely to be weaker, with the future of last season’s loanee Romelu Lukaku key to their hopes of building on their recent success. Spurs are currently rated as the 7/2 fifth favourites to finish in the top four with Betfair.
Levy normally sacks any manager that fails — or looks like they will fail — to crack the top four. This would be fine if he was providing these managers with a transfer and wage budget to match these ambitions. As he’s not, it’s a policy that makes absolutely no sense.
Pochettino has a lot to prove at Spurs but not as much as Levy. If Tottenham’s next manager is to prove successful then Levy must show that he’s learned from a decade of mistakes.
The jokes are already doing the rounds about Pochettino being sacked but maybe it’s Levy that’s really under pressure. He has to get it right this time and having made his call, has to have faith in his own decision.
Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy will either succeed or fail together.