• Andrew Gabriel

Pochettino out, Mourinho in. What now?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

In May 2014, Mauricio Pochettino took over a Tottenham Hotspur team that had done absolutely nothing of significance in the past several decades except sell Gareth Bale for €100 million.

Pochettino managed Tottenham to four straight top-four finishes from the 15-16 season to the 18-19 season, most notably finishing second place in 16-17 with an impressive 86 points, the best finish in the history of the club. Pochettino also led the North London side to their first UEFA Champions League final in the 18-19 season.

Pochettino on the sidelines during the UEFA Champions League Final 2019. Courtesy of talksport.com

These feats and statistics are more impressive considering Spurs was notably quiet in the transfer market in comparison to their Premier League counterparts. Pochettino was never given the funds to bring in an impact player like other high-placing clubs, his most expensive purchase was for Tanguy Ndombélé for a price of €60 million this past summer.

Despite not having the necessary funds to continuously compete for top-four spots with big-money clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, Pochettino managed to somehow keep Tottenham in Champions League contention and at points challenge for the league title.

Unfortunately for Pochettino, the lack of funds caught up to him. It is very simple, the Premier League is pay-to-win, and this year Spurs just didn’t have the budget. At the time of writing, Spurs are 14th in the Premier League due to a general lack of quality and underperformance from the players. The only person to be punished has arguably been the only person not to blame.

On November 19, 2019, after five years of providing lasting memories for the club and bringing them to never-before-reached heights, Tottenham Hotspur fired Mauricio Pochettino.

Less than a day later, Spurs hired Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho has a track record of success with multiple Champions Leagues and league titles in England, Spain, Italy and Portugal, but in recent years he, for all intents and purposes, destroyed Manchester United.

He made expenses and ineffective signings, most notably spending €59 million on Fred from Ukranian side

Shakhtar Donetsk. Fred has more yellow cards than goals and assists combined for the Red Devils in the Premier League. What makes that statistic worse is that he only has 4 yellow cards, which isn’t a significant amount in one-and-a-half seasons.

Mourinho’s signings of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez also turned into complete busts, as both have found a home at Inter Milan. Sanchez is there on loan, but is likely to be sold at the end of the loan because of how underused he’s been at Manchester United.

Which leads us to today, where Mourinho is at the helm of Tottenham.

Mourinho (right) talking to Spurs striker Harry Kane (left) during training. Photo courtesy of independent.ie

On one hand, he can’t bring in expensive players; the budget just isn’t there to throw millions of euros at Ukrainian teams for a consistent bench warmer.

On the other hand, he might not have to bring in those expensive players. Despite being underperforming and disappointing this season, Spurs has an incredible roster built from players that Pochettino bought cheap.

Attacker Son Heung-min is on another level of class when he’s healthy. The back two of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld has proven to be reliable over the years when they’re healthy. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli highlight an otherwise young and impressive midfield. Harry Kane is a former Golden Boot winner and has been in the Tottenham system since the mid-2000s.

This team is not bad, they’re just playing like trash right now. They are better than this, and maybe Mourinho can bring it back out of them.

Mourinho has already stated that they might not win the league for a couple of years, but, despite his latest stint with Manchester United, it is well within the realm of possibility that he can bring Tottenham back to Champions League contention next year.

It would be unfair to judge Mourinho solely by his run with Manchester United, as easy as that can be. He is one of the most decorated managers of all time. His trophy cabinet is absolutely loaded. The man is one of the best to ever manage, there is just no arguing it.

It is very possible that Mourinho can not only bring Tottenham back up to the top four, but given some funds and a few strokes of luck, we could see Tottenham win the Premier League in the next five to seven years.

So now we wait. His first test is against a struggling West Ham United on Saturday the 23rd, a game that Spurs should win, despite my strong bias and love for the Hammers.

If Mourinho can pull Spurs back into the top six, he will make a believer out of just about everyone in the league. If not, there is a lot of mystery to see what will happen next.

As for Pochettino, I sincerely hope he finds a job somewhere that will give him enough money to make a greater impact on his team. The man deserves a trophy, there are no two ways about it, and I genuinely hope he is able to go to a club that won’t hold him back as much as Spurs did and let the man make moves.

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