The Daily Mail is publishing previews of Guillem Balague’s upcoming book about Mauricio Pochettino’s time at Spurs and the latest excerpts feature some slightly concerning anecdotes from behind the scenes at White Hart Lane.
It’s been mostly pretty standard fare — insight into Poch’s relationship with Harry Kane, a story about the coaching staff going rafting with Daniel Levy, stuff like that.
However, the latest edition features more details on Manchester United’s attempts to sign Eric Dier. That includes a conversation Dier had with José Mourinho after the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford that did not sit well with Pochettino.
Then I found out that United have made an approach and the player is being destabilised. His people have been putting pressure on him, although United are not promising anything.
They passed by me en route to the dressing rooms, laughing, speaking in Portuguese. Maybe it is a common Mourinho tactic, but he put Eric in a compromising position. You cannot do that after a defeat.
That led to a four-hour conversation the next day where the pair cleared the air and patched things up.
Pochettino also reveals they disagree about Dier’s best position, the player preferring midfield to his role in the back three. That had been rumored in the press ever since Dier moved into defense, but the player himself had dismissed it.
Another excerpt sheds light on Kyle Walker’s exit from Spurs. The defender apparently took umbrage at being benched for the game against Watford at the Lane. Apparently that was the last straw for him, and he voiced his frustrations to Pochettino.
'Gaffer, I've been at Tottenham for nine years. I've thought about it and my heart isn't here any more. Nor is my head. I've given all I have to give. I wanted to tell you before I tell my agent that I want to leave this summer.'
Unsurprisingly, the manager didn’t take that particularly well, telling Walker he should have waited until the end of the season. That confirms reports that the pair had a falling out late in the season and explains why Walker didn’t feature much down the stretch.
So, what to make of these comments? It’s a very strange, out of character move for Poch, who is generally pretty guarded. It makes even less sense given his reaction when Danny Rose aired the team’s dirty laundry in The Sun.
I don’t really understand the need to make contentious private conversations with players public. The Walker story doesn’t bother me quite as much since he’s gone, but why would you offer that information about Dier up so publicly? What do you gain from putting that out in the open?
I have no idea how (or if) this will affect his relationship with the players, but why take the risk? Spurs already walk a fairly tight rope keeping players happy on wages lower than they could get at other clubs, I don’t know how this helps that situation.