Spurs have done well since the decision was made to fire Mauricio Pochettino and replace him with Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham has since climbed up the table into fifth place, and Spurs are now just three points out of fourth. But this return to form won’t get rid of some of the sadness that lingers from the sacking of Pochettino.
Daniel Levy, who made that choice to move on from Poch, gave an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard recently, part two of which has been released today. Levy spoke about how much it hurt to fire Pochettino, but added that he could one day return to manage the club in the future.
“You have to understand I had built up a personal relationship with Mauricio over five-and-a-half years,” he said. “It is not something I ever wanted. Personally, it was incredibly difficult, I told him that and he understood. He’s been in football [a long time], he understands. It’s not personal and I’m sure he’ll come back stronger and get an opportunity to manage another great club. Maybe one day he’ll come back to us.”
Yes, Pochettino was fired, and he may not think as fondly of Levy as he used to, but this wasn’t an ugly divorce by any means. Pochettino is only 47-years-old. He has a long, prosperous managerial career ahead of him. Things change quickly in this sport, so maybe a reunion would be of mutual interest one day.
The early days of the Mourinho era have been encouraging, but he, understandably, doesn’t have the connection with the supporters that Pochettino had. That may never come. If Poch doesn’t return to Spurs someday, he’ll be remembered as the manager who helped the club become a legitimate contender in the Premier League and Champions League.
Levy didn’t want to talk about too much else of Pochettino and the past. He also pushed back on the notion that he might be the best negotiator of all the executives in England.
“The perception and the reality, I can tell you, can be very different,” he said. “Best negotiator? I think that’s just false. There’s no such thing. You can be good, fair, hard. I don’t think anyone can define themselves as the best. I can’t help what other people say, but all I am doing is trying to become a bigger club and I am just protecting my assets.”
“I am just protecting my assets” is classic Levy. He gets a lot of criticism, and some of it is deserved, but there’s no doubting what he has done for this club in terms of financials and in terms of stature.
The Tottenham chairman also spoke about Mourinho and his appointment at the club.
There are lots of perceptions out there in relation to Jose that I’m not sure are true. I wanted to spend some time with him so we were totally aligned, on the basis there was no point him coming to a club where he expected different things to us. And we were totally aligned on the strategy going forward.
Levy went into further detail about what those misconceptions about Mourinho are.
“One is that he wouldn’t play attacking football,” explained Levy. “The evidence has shown that, based on the number of goals we have been scoring, we have been playing really exciting football. Not developing young players? A perception, but I don’t think it is borne out by fact. You’ll see as the season goes on, I’m sure lots of our young players will get lots of opportunities.”
It’s interesting that Levy felt the need to vocalize those concerns that other fan-bases have had about Mourinho. Spurs, as a club, pride themselves on playing attacking football, and Mourinho, in past jobs, has been accused of playing more conservatively.
If he did so excessively at Spurs, the fans would not like it, and Levy clearly recognizes that. That’s a good thing.
It’s worth reading the full interview yourself, as Levy touches on a wide range of topics surrounding the club.