Mauricio Pochettino played and managed at Espanyol. He has said in the past that he has a Spanish passport. Tottenham Hotspur have had wintertime training sessions in the Barcelona sun for two consecutive years now. But fans shouldn’t worry that Poch is ready to leave Spurs to be Barcelona’s next manager.
Luis Enrique announced yesterday that he is stepping down as manager of Barça at the end of the season after a – by Barcelona standards – sub-par campaign. Pochettino was instantly linked to the job in the football media, along with managers such as Everton’s Ronald Koeman, Sevilla’s Jorge Sampaoli, Arsene Wenger, and Laurent Blanc.
Barcelona is unquestionably one of the two or three best jobs in club football. However, there are very good reasons to think that Pochettino is not interested in moving to Spain at this time. First, he’s more or less said so, commenting on the links just before Spurs’ Europa League match against Gent in Belgium two weeks ago.
"I can't say anything about [managing Barcelona]. I'm at Tottenham. I am very happy, [I have] four more years of my contract, enjoying an exciting project. It's true it's not an easy project, but I'm very happy here."
There’s a lot to be happy about if you’re Pochettino and managing Tottenham. Spurs are competing for Champions League immediately and have a bright future, with a core of talented young players. Spurs also have that shiny new stadium coming, and everything that comes along with it, including the promise of additional funds for transfers and wages.
The Barcelona job, by contrast, is the very definition of a high-pressure managerial position. Barcelona wins, and while Pochettino will have a virtually unlimited budget and his pick of the best players in the world, the expectations are enormous and never, ever go down. While Poch refers to the Spurs job as “not an easy project,” it would certainly come with less pressure and less baggage than Barcelona.
Moreover, Pochettino is a system manager. It’s unclear whether he would be able, or even want, to implement his high pressing, build-from-the-back tactics at a Spanish club that is known for its free-flowing attacking style, or whether Barcelona’s players would be amenable to changing the way they play.
Finally, Pochettino has expressed a short list of “dream jobs,” and Barça isn’t on the list. He’s said that he would love to manage at Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina and PSG where he spent part of his playing career, and has expressed interest in one day managing the Argentina national team.
Maybe it’s for these reasons why Pochettino is currently pretty low on the oddsmakers’ list for who will be next to manage Barcelona. According to Paddy Power, Poch has odds of only 14/1 to leave Spurs for Spain.
Barcelona manager odds (Paddy Power)
|Jorge Sampaoli (Sevilla)||7/2|
|Ronald Koeman (Everton)||4/1|
|Ernesto Valverde (Athletic Bilbao)||5/1|
|Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)||5/1|
|Laurent Blanc (unattached)||11/1|
|Maurico Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur)||14/1|
|Oscar Garcia (RB Salzburg)||14/1|
|Thomas Tuchel (Dortmund)||14/1|
|Paco Jemez (Cruz Azul)||16/1|
|Juan Carlos Unzué (Barcelona asst)||16/1|
|Frank De Boer (Inter Milan)||20/1|
|Carles Puyol (unattached)||20/1|
|Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)||20/1|
That’s not to say that Pochettino might not be at least mildly interested. Poch is an ambitious manager, and as long as Tottenham Hotspur continue to play well and improve he’s going to continue to be linked with bigger jobs and better clubs. That’s football. However, it’s not a stretch to assume that Poch is currently happy with what he’s building at Tottenham and may not be ready to jump into the crucible at Barcelona just yet. He has already removed himself from consideration from previous jobs, including Argentina in 2016.
Maybe someday, either if things fall apart at Spurs or if he feels like he’s achieved what he wanted to in North London, he may move on. Until then, he appears to be an excellent fit for Tottenham, and there doesn’t seem to be much reason to worry.