“I hear people say stuff about Tottenham and I don’t like it.”
Those are the famous words said by Eric Dier back in September of 2015, when Spurs had just put Manchester City to the sword, 4-1, in what was a coming out party of sorts. The words were said in reference to the “Lads, it’s Tottenham” type of banter that implies that Spurs always revealed themselves to be soft pushovers.
The same words come to mind today, but for different reason.
On Monday, the Telegraph reported that Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino have held crisis talks. According to the report, Spurs players are preparing for a managerial change.
It’s always tough to tell which parts of these pieces are based on actual information from sources, and which parts are just speculation. A lot of this from Matt Law and John Percy seems like the latter, but if it’s true that Levy and Pochettino have held crisis talks, that much alone is concerning. I don’t like it.
It’s hard for me to accept that the club is considering getting rid of arguably its greatest manager ever.
Everyone knows what the man we lovingly call “Poch” has accomplished at the club. Pochettino instilled a culture at Tottenham that helped vanquish many of those jokes Dier was angry about.
Yes, no trophies have been won, but no one can deny just how far the Lilywhites have come. Spurs made a Champions League final and lost in large part because of unfair early penalty. Spurs have finished ahead of Arsenal for the past three seasons after a 22-year dark age of being below the Gooners. Spurs have competed for the league title on a couple occasions, something they hadn’t done for decades. Spurs have generally just been good and exciting over the past five years.
I understand the frustration with poor results, but we can’t be at the point yet where we want to sack the man who brought us all those good things.
This team is not getting relegated and should not overreact like it’s actually in danger of the drop. 14th place is obviously not where Spurs want to be, but the table is deceiving. Tottenham are only three points off fifth place. The top four may be out of reach, but would a year in the Europa League be that much of a disaster? Would we want to fire Pochettino over a slight disappointment like that?
Say Spurs lose to West Ham this weekend and Pochettino is sacked sometime soon after, then what happens? Would they appoint an interim manager for the remainder of the season? Would they then trust that interim guy to be involved in the process of buying players during the apparent rebuild that is coming in January?
Massimiliano Allegri is the most attractive name on the market for me, but is he going to want to join mid-season? I really doubt it.
Spurs would also have to pay Poch a substantial amount of money if they dismiss him. According to multiple reports, it’s a number somewhere around £12 million.
There have been a couple rumblings that Pochettino may not be as checked in to the job as he used to be. If that’s true, then action may be necessary, but I’m not buying that that’s true, and I’m not buying that it would be true if significant investments are made into the squad during the looming transfer window.
Think back to the 2014/15 season for a second. It was the Argentinian’s first year at Spurs, and things didn’t start very smoothly. There were blowout losses to City and Liverpool, and there were frustrating upsets at the hands of West Brom and Newcastle. Pochettino’s seat was already hot just weeks into his debut season.
Things looked really bad when Spurs went 1-0 down to Aston Villa in the first game of November. But then Christian Benteke was shown a red card, and his dismissal was followed by late goals from Nacer Chadli and Harry Kane. Kane’s goal was a ridiculously lucky free kick that left Brad Guzan rooted to the spot after coming off the head of a Villa player in the wall.
In September of 2017, after Kane scored his 100th Premier League goal, Pochettino pointed to that deflected winner at Villa Park as being his favorite of Kane’s tallies, because he said it saved his job.
“For me, that goal was an amazing goal because it meant for us, for everyone, the possibility to stay here today,” Pochettino told the press. “It’s true, the team was 14th or 13th and we were a little bit under pressure because the team was playing well, but not winning games and we were a bit under pressure. Always in football, when you don’t get good results, the first to be sacked is the manager.”
Back in those days, one of the main criticisms of Levy was the instability that came with the frequent changing of managers. Spurs had been through countless coaches in the time since he took over in 2001, and the club desperately needed stability.
Firing Pochettino that early would likely have robbed Tottenham of so many amazing things that have happened since 2015. It would have been a horrible mistake.
Firing Pochettino now would be a similarly bad mistake. Some of the players have gone stale, and the manager probably deserves a good amount of blame, but I trust Mauricio Pochettino more than I trust anyone else to steer Spurs through these stormy seas.