Although ‘Poch’ was the media’s front-runner for the last few weeks, it doesn’t mean the fans are necessarily overjoyed with the appointment, with many fans seeing Frank de Boer as a better option.
One can understand the calls for de Boer: he knows two of Spurs key players well – Vertonghen and Eriksen – he has a footballing pedigree as a player, has won titles as a manager (albeit in the Dutch league) and has masterminded a Champions League win over Barcelona giving a tactical masterclass with only 10 men.
But Spurs fans cannot dwell on ‘what ifs’, five potential candidates were in the frame, but only one man got the job. Encouragement for the appointment of Pochettino has come in the form of the backing he received from his former players in the lead up to his resignation as they spoke fondly of him and voiced that they didn’t want him to leave.
As one’d expect, Daniel Levy has been upbeat about the appointment, trying to fill the fans with optimism about the “high energy, attacking football…proven ability to develop each player as an individual…great team spirit…and winning mentality” that Pochettino brings.
Levy knows the fans will need to be behind the new man from day one of the 2014/15 season if Spurs have any aspirations of a top 4 finish, but there is a lot of work to be done with the fans before then – no doubt some decent signings will help.
Pochettino obviously ticked a lot of boxes for Levy and his board, so we thought we would take a look at what tickled Levy’s fancy about the Argentine:
* Premier League experience – this can’t be overlooked: just as players who come to the Premier League need time to adjust to the pace, intensity, variety and quality, so do managers. Pochettino knows the league and opposition well enough to hit the ground running and knows what works.
* Formation – Pochettino likes to play a 4-2-3-1 which suits the squad he inherits perfectly, not much recruitment will be needed, so new players can only be bought in key positions such as centre-back, left-back and striker. Spurs fans will be pleased to hear Luke Shaw has emerged as one the potential targets but may not be so excited with the rumours linking Jay Rodriguez with a move to North London.
* The ‘Spurs’ way – looking at the Spurs squad last season, they had a lot of the right ingredients, but they lacked a certain something. Players needing time to settle was one element, but it was more the team’s lack of intensity to play a high-tempo game, move the ball quickly when in possession and, when not in possession, to press high up the field. The traits of Poch’s Southampton team.
* You speaka the lingo? – Pochettino may not have proven his extensive English skills yet, but like Baxter (and unlike Ron) he speaks Spanish and knows Spanish and South American football well. This gives him great scope to get the most out of expensive striking misfit Roberto Soldado, as the Spurs board hopes for some return on their expensive investment. The South American in him may just bring out the best in Sandro and Paulinho as well.
* Argie Bargie – Spurs love an Argentine (see Ardiles/Villa), but the latest import Erik Lamela has done little to justify his large price tag. There is hope within the Spurs hierarchy (especially Baldini) that under Pochettino, Lamela will flourish and fulfill his potential.
* A touch of the W**g*r – Spurs have a growing crop of young talent ready to be involved in the first team: Alex Prichard, Tom Carroll, Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb are the prime candidates, plus a batch below that may need to be integrated over the next couple of seasons if they keep progressing as expected.
* Train hard or go home – Sherwood accused some of the current Spurs squad of not having the fight and also not being too committed in training – Pochettino’s savage fitness regime will soon weed out those who won’t fit and it is his way or the highway.
There is a feeling that the former Southampton manager is already up against it as doubts linger over his ability to manage at this level and Tottenham players are yet to come out in support of the new gaffer.
It looks like Spurs have their work cut out to change hearts and minds, but with a couple of decent signings and some early wins, Pochettino will soon start ticking the fans’ boxes as well as Levy’s.