When Mauricio Pochettino signed up as Tottenham Hotspur manager at the start of this summer, he implicitly agreed to go through the same hazing ritual every skipper of the club not born and bred in sunny England has to go through- heavy media scrutiny, swiftly followed by passive-aggressive pillioring if results aren't initially very good. Alongside troll articles from the Mirror about the Argentine moving sideways or backwards after leaving St Mary's, Poch now has to endure former players being directed towards backhanded remarks about his methods. Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse dropped a little gem of this type in the Evening Standard today:
"With the new manager, training is more about short, sharp work, which I think the players prefer," said Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse. "I think you can see the differences in our performance. Pochettino likes to press a lot more and we did a lot more extra running sessions late into the afternoon during his time at the club."
As dispiriting as reading such remarks from one of our manager's ex-protégés may be, a little extra context as ever is needed here. Lest we forget, our very own first team was almost united in support for Tim 'Tactics' Sherwood's ways after his first few games in charge around New Year, purely because he seemed to demand the players think less hard about and work less hard on... well, pretty much everything except attacking, really. Check out, for example, these glowing illustrative quotes from Mousa Dembele and Lewis Holtby. Once the novelty of not being worn into the ground by AVB wore off amongst the players, however, relations quickly turned sour in the Spurs camp, and it's tough to imagine a tear being shed over Tim's departure back in May.
Now, far be it from me to suggest that Sherwood is anywhere near as astute a football coach as Ronald Koeman,whose great start with Southampton is the punctuation mark on an extensive and impressive CV developed overseas. I simply feel that it's important to remember that nice comments such as JWP's, born of an early bounce under a manager who switches up a team's tactical style, should be taken as exactly that- and not as a definitive word on the methods of both the incumbent manager or his predecessor.
Oh, and there's the fact that JWP has more or less been made a key player since Koeman took over. Might be worth keeping that in mind too.