As football fans, we tend to like it when we get humanizing moments from our favored club’s members. Especially after bad losses. Often, we’re so furious by an embarrassing loss that we appreciate it when the manager shows his emotions in its wake.
We didn’t really get that after the debacle at St. James’ Park at the end of last season. The 5-1 drubbing stung like the dickens, not least because Spurs really phoned it in, but because it also resulted in a St. Totteringham’s Day on the last day of the season. Mad doesn’t begin to describe it.
So in this context the quotes in the Daily Mail from Mauricio Pochettino provide just a bit of a soothing, if belated, balm to the wounds inflicted by Rafa Benitez and the already-relegated Newcastle team. Poche doesn’t mince words in saying how that result made him feel, and how he wasn’t really able to express his emotions in the moment, what with the season ending and all.
‘The feeling after Newcastle was horrible. It is true that after a couple of months you move on, but it put me in a bad mood for the whole of the summer. It killed my holidays. Seriously. I went to Barcelona and the Bahamas with my family, but all the time I was in a bad mood.
‘There was no time to assimilate the defeat at Newcastle because the season finished at the end of the game and I did not have the chance to share my feelings with my players the day after and kill them!
I love this. Like, really really love it. You can tell that the Newcastle result absolutely mortified Pochettino past all reason. It emphasizes the incredible competitive streak that permeates his entire self. Can’t you just visualize Poche sitting in his cabana on a rainy beach in the Bahamas, replaying every missed tackle, every moment where effort was lacking, and fuming? Snapping at his wife and kids? Restraining himself from texting his players and telling them what dumbasses they are? Boy, I can. It’s exactly how every Tottenham fan in the world felt after that match. Like “wanting to call in sick to work so you don’t have to look their Gooner co-worker in the eye” kind of embarrassment.
‘Normally when you lose and you are upset with the players you have the opportunity to tell them how you feel on Monday morning when you meet them and have a big discussion and a big fight.
‘But after the Newcastle game it was not possible because many of my players went off to the Euros. So I had to keep my bad feeling inside for the whole of the summer. Even when I was texting my players in France to wish them well I had to hide my real feelings about the Newcastle game.’
But here’s what I know about Mauricio Pochettino: he learns from situations like this. The Newcastle result was a punch to the gut after what was, by almost every conceivable metric, an historic and fantastic season for Tottenham Hotspur. But Poche isn’t a manager to rest on his laurels and say “that’s good enough for Spurs.”
No, he carries that embarrassment with him. He’s still not over that loss to a relegated side. And if you think that the Tottenham players haven’t paid for that 5-1 loss with a plethora of additional wind sprints, double training sessions, and lung-busting aerobic drills, then I’m Ledley King.
You can shrug off losses like the Newcastle match at St. James, or you can learn from them and use it as motivation to get better. I think I know how Mauricio Pochettino is handling that particular touchstone.