Tottenham Hotspur - Mauricio "Spurring along"

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© Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur - Mauricio "Spurring along"

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Vinay

11/02/2016

Deep down every rival fan admires what a certain Argentine manager has achieved at the Lane. Mauricio Pochettino has well and truly announced himself and how. Spurs are suddenly considered the real deal and a lot of it has got to do with how the diminutive argentine has done there.

A centre-back who plied his trade in his native Argentina; moved on to Spain with Espanyol, went to the glamorous French league (PSG and Bordeaux), Mauricio had an enduring career and a fairly consistent one. It was as a coach though that he truly announced himself to the world.

The Espanyol job, the Southampton transition and then now at Spurs, Pochettino continues to impress. Imagine if he had won the league last season!!! There wouldn't be a soul in sight across White Hart Lane who would not have accorded him cult status. He was close, very close till the ill-fated game at the Bridge(Chelsea). It truly would have been a remarkable achievement for a man was once considered too rigid in his ways and too stubborn to change. Marcelo Bielsa, the man who Mauricio idolizes, once told him he was s**t as a player when he was at Espanyol.  This was when a lot of the Spanish press had considered him to be one of the best centre-backs in La Liga. Pochettino initially realized that in wanting to be the star man, he had forgotten what got him there. He learnt from it and went on to greater things. The same principle he applies now on his team. No star men, no airs, just hard work.

In his first season as a coach with Espanyol, he managed to beat the mighty Barcelona at the Nou camp, 2-1. The blueprint of that win remains the same even now. High press, full backs more as wing backs and a solid centre-back security. Southampton finished 8th, their highest points tally, under him proving the system worked wonderfully well. He had the industry as well as the skill needed to sustain this philosophy and so far, it has yielded the results. “Where did I get the idea we had to (press)? It’s about your personality, who you are. You show on the pitch who you are. If you are brave in your life, you cannot behave in a different way on the pitch. I don’t understand how to play in a different way. Always, be brave. I like to be brave,”is how Pochettino describes his coaching philosophy. 

Managerial record by team and tenure

Team

From

To

Record

 

 

 

P

W

D

L

Win %

Espanyol

20-Jan-09

26-Nov-12

161

53

38

70

32.9

Southampton

18-Jan-13

27-May-14

60

23

18

19

38.3

Tottenham Hotspur

27-May-14

Present

124

62

33

29

50

Moreover, youngsters are getting their due chance as well. Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and others will tell you that Pochettino has made them better. If Moussa Dembele has had a new lease of life, a major part of it has got to with the system and the belief that Mauricio has installed at the Lane. The same applies to a few more such as the likes of Dier and co. Now if you do not fit the system, you are out. Ask Nacer Chadli and others who were shunted out. What he does do, however, is give time for a player to show what he can do. Either the player cracks it or he is let go. 

 © Getty Images

However, the high press game is not for all. Similar references to Klopp's philosophy is telling here but both the managers do follow a similar system. While Klopp has a free-flowing philosophy which has more goals scored and conceded. Mauricio's Spurs play the high press with defensive solidity. They defend from the top. Again, not many can sustain this over a long run and there was a sense that spurs ran out of steam in last season's run in. Conversely, they reached that stage by playing this style of football. Sam Clucas (Hull City), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) and N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) have covered the most ground in the Premier League so far but it is Liverpool(581.6), Manchester City(570.7) and Tottenham Hotspur(565.9) who have the highest distance covered so far. The point here is teams who cover the maximum distances, do it collectively. The top 3 teams are all ones who play the high-pressure game and pass it out from the back. 

"I only show my emotions at home, in my bed", the 44-year-old was quoted saying about his unusual calmness during games. Well, he may not show much but his team definitely are showing that steel and substance in equal measure and that comes right from training. He sets them up right and that is fairly reflective on the pitch. it does all show his belief in his team. 

With one-third of the season done, Mauricio has got his team settled in even though he would have preferred lesser draws  so far. The highlight of the campaign so far though was beating Manchester City. Finally, it is fair to say that Spurs seem to be the real deal. They are the only team unbeaten in the league and it will be fair to assume that they will be in the reckoning come May 2017. The only question for a Spurs fan is will the fizz, fizzle out or will the champagne flow at the Lane this season. Rest assured, their coach will make sure that they will not make the same mistakes again.

Otamendi or Adam Smith? Who will make more tackles?

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