We know that Mauricio Pochettino’s training regimens are difficult and grueling. We’ve heard on numerous occasions about how Tottenham Hotspur “hate” the summer training because Poch runs them into the ground. We also know that in many aspects of the club, it’s Poch’s way or the highway.
Former Southampton striker Rickie Lambert has a hilarious story relayed at Football Insider about Pochettino’s training and how difficult he made life at St. Mary’s when he arrived. And it just about perfectly encapsulates everything we know about Poch.
“I just couldn’t cope. We would come in on Monday after 90 minutes on the Saturday and do 12 horseshoe runs [of the training pitch].
“I had the bottle to go into his room, pull him to one side very respectfully and I said, ‘Mauricio, listen, we understand what you’re trying to do, but you’re pushing us too much on a Monday, you just need to calm it down, we’re not used to it’.
“Mauricio was dead polite, said ‘Yes, that’s fine, I understand’, we shook hands and I went back to the lads, made up, thinking, ‘just sorted it for you boys’.
“Next Monday, we came in and not only did we do 12, we did 24 runs. I was running around laughing, almost crying. I knew what he was doing, he was trying to break me and he did, he broke me.”
I love this story. It’s pure, crystallized Pochettino. Lambert doesn’t say when this story occurred during Pochettino’s tenure, but he was already on the wrong side of 30 when Poch arrived. I can understand why having a guy in his 30s like Lambert complaining about having to run a lot might be a thing, but the response is just so quintessentially Poch. Yes, yes, I understand your concerns, thank you. Now go run twice as far.
The proof is in the pudding. Pochettino’s two Southampton squads, particularly the 2013-14 side, were fitter than most in the Premier League, and that has translated over to his Tottenham teams as well. The extra runs that Poch puts his players through mean that they are more likely to last a whole Premier League season without running out of gas, and often can run other clubs off the pitch in individual games.
Best thing about this story, though: I don’t get the sense that Lambert is bitter about it. You can almost see him smiling relaying that story, though it probably helps that he’s retired now and doesn’t have to worry about horseshoe runs anymore.