When Mauricio Pochettino signed his contract extension with Tottenham Hotspur yesterday, the club made a small but seemingly significant change to his job title. Whereas when Poche was hired, he was hired as Spurs' First Team Coach, with this extension he now carries the title of manager.
But what's the difference? Ben Pearce asked Pochettino in the Hampstead and Highgate Express.
“Last season I was head coach, now I’m manager. The title, only the club nominates me but in the end it’s the same job.
“When I was head coach I was involved in all aspects of the club and now it’s still the same - only that they want to nominate me manager. I’m happy but it doesn’t change my position in the club.
“I think we are agreed that it would be good, for myself, for the club, for all. It’s true that ‘manager’ is a word that means different things than head coach. Maybe I was always manager, from the first day I arrived here, and maybe it describes my job better.
“I think you know the head coach only manages the team, and only you are the coach - but when you are the head coach you care for different things, not only the team.
“I think from the first day I always felt I was manager. Now we’ve changed the word but my work continues to be the same.”
In English football, traditionally first team or head coaches have responsibility only for the club's actual first team. They conduct training, they select tactics and squads, they coach during matches. But a first team coach typically is not responsible for some of the duties associated with overseeing all aspects of the club, usually relating to general oversight, as well as scouting and acquisitions of players.
The distinction is sometimes merely one of nomenclature: on the continent, especially in Germany, clubs more typically have head coaches, while in England it's more common to see managers, even though both jobs are essentially the same.
Hence, Poche's title when he was first hired at Spurs was significant, as it implied that there were some aspects of the club's business that were not specifically in his wheelhouse. However, Pochettino has been pretty much heavily involved in those same aspects of the club since his first days at Tottenham, especially regarding scouting and player transfers. Pochettino seemed to confirm this in his interview with Pearce when asked about his involvement with transfers:
“No, we continue the same. We share the decisions, that’s why we have different departments and always at the end we have [chairman] Daniel Levy to decide the things that will happen here.”
More likely, the distinction has more to do with monetary compensation than anything else: it doesn't really sound like he'll necessarily be doing more, but will instead have a job title that accurately reflects his status at the club, and presumably he'll be getting more money with the increase in status.
In a sense, perhaps the switch of his job title from "first team coach" to "manager" has more to do with reflecting what he's already doing than an increase in his day to day responsibilities. However, a "manager" does carry more gravitas in England football culture than "head coach" because words do have meaning.