F365 says: Pochettino shows Mourinho a real masterclass…

Date published: Wednesday 18th October 2017 11:40

‘José Mourinho is minded to sign a new contract at Manchester United but will do so only if he believes the terms reflect his achievements at the club and its current status under him’ – The Guardian.

Apparently, earning a mere £15m a year does not accurately reflect the incredible work Mourinho has done in moulding Manchester United into League Cup and Europa League winners and leading them to an incredible sixth-place finish in between spending £300m on new players. Rather a lot more money is clearly required to reward a ‘current status’ on resplendent display with their unambitious performance against a vulnerable Liverpool at Anfield.

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino has transformed Tottenham into genuine title contenders and Champions League stalwarts, earning considerably more Premier League points than Mourinho since he became Manchester United manager, whilst having a net transfer spend only just north of bugger all. On Tuesday night he took a team lacking Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama and two international left-backs to the Bernabeu as equals to Real Madrid and emulated Bobby Robson, Rafa Benitez, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson in returning unbeaten. He earns little more than £5m a year.

Pray tell us which manager deserves a pay rise commensurate with his achievements with his club.

In the centre of Tottenham’s midfield was a 21-year-old Englishman who had never even started a game against an elite Premier League side, and yet he took on Real Madrid with composure, confidence and just the right amount of aggression. Any other big-six side would have sent Winks out on loan this season but Pochettino is no ordinary manager – he keeps his most promising young players close; the last thing he needs is Winks unlearning all things Tottenham while getting a crick in his neck at West Brom or Burnley.

Tottenham could take on the might of Real Madrid and draw 1-1 with nobody’s dream central midfield of Winks, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen because every member of that squad has been diligently and intelligently coached by Pochettino rather than simply bought off the shelf. The shape was compact, the space was minimal, the discipline was almost absolute. It is telling that the one player who is guilty of making rash decisions is one of the last men through the door; Serge Aurier is still a work in progress.

The Argentine has earned the right to name a team that makes you raise an eyebrow. You trust he has a plan. A front two of Fernando Llorente and Kane in the Bernabeu? Not for Pochettino the problem of leaving a lone striker isolated; if you lack pace in midfield, then at least ensure that direct balls can stick. And the Spaniard perhaps should have had a penalty, while it was interplay between the two strikers that created a chance untypically spurned by Kane. It worked. It all worked.

Dominating talk in the build-up to this game was Kane’s status as a potential superstar on the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo, an already sizzling pot stirred by Pep Guardiola with his flippant reference to “the Harry Kane team”. An apology is due, not to Kane’s teammates but the one man who really defines this Tottenham side, a man who deserves the twin job descriptions of both coach and manager, moulding players in the long term and then managing them to performances and results with genuine tactical versatility.

This is ‘the Mauricio Pochettino team’ and they are really very good indeed.

Sarah Winterburn

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