Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is reported to be Manchester United’s number one target to replace Jose Mourinho.
There is little surprise that the Argentinian, who was also coveted by Real Madrid in the summer and may be again in 2019, is courting interest given the brilliant job he has done at Spurs. The ‘Pochettino effect’ has transformed the north London club.
Playing the Tottenham way – but winning
Spurs have been synonymous with playing attractive football over the years and Pochettino has stuck to that, but also developed a winning culture. With the likes of Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen playing off Harry Kane, Spurs are a delight to watch on their day. They have averaged 1.88 goals per match during Pochettino’s 169-game reign in the league, a rise from 1.58 for the same period before his arrival. And that has not come at a cost to the defence as their average goals conceded has gone down from 1.20 to 0.98. That has contributed to them consistently challenging for silverware in his four-and-a-half years in charge. They have spent 237 days in the Premier League’s top two – and mounted a title challenge in 2015-16 – and are regular top-four contenders now, they have got to two FA Cup semi-finals and were League Cup runners-up in 2015. His win ratio is the best of any Spurs manager in the Premier League era at 59.2 per cent.
Developed players into top stars
Part of their success has undoubtedly been Pochettino’s ability to develop players into top stars. Kane has become one of the leading names in world football, Alli has risen from League One to arguably the best young player in England and Eriksen is a stellar performer that has been linked with the best clubs in the world. None of their players were at that level before Pochettino arrived. His coaching and tactical nous is clearly up their with the best, but it is perhaps his man-management that sets him apart. Kane recently said how their progression to the Champions League knockout stages was fuelled by the players’ desire not to let their manager down and there is a strong bond between the two. The best evidence for how Pochettino has created a team full of stars is the fact that nine of their squad were at this summer’s World Cup for the entirety – more than any other club.
Given youth a chance
Perhaps one of the biggest boxes ticked by Pochettino, in terms of being a Manchester United candidate, is his track record of giving youth a chance. United fans love nothing more than one of their own products coming through to the first team and the Argentinian has certainly done that at Spurs as he has given 13 academy players a senior appearance. Harry Winks is the biggest success story of them all, having gone on to feature for England, but big things are expected of Kyle Walker-Peters and Oliver Skipp. One thing is for sure, if they are good enough, they will certainly get the chance under Pochettino.
Balanced the books
The biggest testament to how well Pochettino has done at Spurs is the fact that he has turned them into perennial top-four contenders with a reported net spend of just £29million. While some of the other top sides in the Premier League have spent over £200million in one transfer window, Pochettino has spent just over that in his entire reign, while also recouping significant transfer fees at the same time. Spurs simply do not have to financial muscle to compete with the likes of United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, which makes the work Pochettino has done even more impressive.
Coped in adversity
That lack of activity in the transfer window is just one of a number of issues Pochettino has had to contend with and he has proved he can cope well when things are against him. This summer they became the first side since the Premier League’s summer transfer window’s inception not to make a signing, yet have still gone on to enjoy their best ever start to a season. That has come despite those nine World Cup stars not returning to the club until just five days before the new season started while nine of the 12 players who went to Russia have picked up muscle injuries throughout the campaign. And all this has been going on against the back drop of having to play at Wembley for the last 18 months while their new stadium is being built. The last six months have brought even more uncertainty as delays to the new home means they have been extending their Wembley stay on an ad-hoc basis.