When Pochettino arrived to these shores back in January 2013, few would have known the credentials of the Argentinian who didn’t speak a word of English. Some might have remembered him, as the Centre Back who upended Michael Owen during the 2002 World Cup.
To begin with, his time in England was not easy. Pochettino’s appointment had become a concern for the league itself, another foreign manager replacing a British manager. Being a Saints fan myself, I can recall the opinion of Pochettino and the board who had been so quick to sack Nigel Adkins. Adkins was a real fans favourite, why wouldn’t he be? He’d taken Southampton back to the promised land with back to back promotions and a mid table position in the Premier League.
Adkins didn’t represent a manager who deserved to be sacked, in fact his last game was a 2-2 draw away at Stamford Bridge. Hardly relegation form. Pochettino knew he would have to hit the ground running when he arrived.
Of course as we all know now the change in management proved to be a success story, and Southampton became a very formidable opponent over the course of the next 18 months. Their success was built on being worked non stop during training sessions. Mauricio by all accounts would get so engrossed in training sessions, that players would have to bring portable clocks out with them so that he could be reminded of running overtime.
In a nutshell, Pochettino prides himself on his teams being fitter than opponents. He instructs his players to continually keep opposing players under pressure as much as possible. Pressure the opposition into making a mistake, and then be physically fit enough to be able to use the ball correctly when it comes to attacking.
Okay, thats enough looking into the history and tactics of the man. Let’s get back on track about what this is really about – his contribution to the current English national side.
After one of the most exciting England performances in recent times on Saturday night against the World Champions in Berlin. It could be very easy to level all the credit to Roy Hodgson and forget about input from anyone else. But a pattern of players names began to consist all across the pitch during the 90 minutes, made it impossible to do so. The same players kept cropping up either via commentators or pundits praising individuals.
The likes of Rose, Dier, Alli and of course Kane all impressed in the win against Germany, and will be hoping to secure their position in the starting 11 over the up and coming friendlies.
For me, Danny Rose particularly stepped up. An abundance of stamina alongside a defensively strong mindset, meant Rose could defend primarily but also be a key member to pushing further into the opponents half; just how Pochettino likes his players to function.
If we take a moment away from the resilient England performance itself on Saturday evening and look at some of the players the Tottenham Head Coach has worked with during his time in England;
From Tottenham: Alli, Dier, Rose, Kane, Mason, Walker, Townsend,
From Southampton: Ward – Prowse, Lambert, Lallana, Shaw, Rodriquez, Chambers
Yes, I’ve seen it levelled at other writers who have tried to discuss this subject, that these were already key established players at Southampton. Or that these two clubs in particular have always produced talented footballers. Even if that is the case, Mauricio Pochettino has certainly helped to develop a platform for players to be able to express themselves on the pitch whilst also still remembering their pressing responsibilities.
The once Espanyol manager is even attracting praise from one of the most respected managers ever to have graced the game. With Sir Alex Ferguson suggesting that, Pochettino is now the best manager in the top English division.
I believe that the primarily reason England fans should be appreciative towards Pochettino, is that not only has he identified young english talent such as Dier & Alli. He’s also allowed it to succeed at a First Team level. It would have been very easy for Dier to have been dropped at the beginning of his Spurs career, when he was labelled to immobile to play at Centre Half. Fast forward several months on, Dier has blossomed looking at ease playing as a Defensive midfielder against some of Europe’s elite.
Players need time and trust from their manager to be able to succeed especially young players, they may be fearless but could be prone to becoming unconfident if costly mistakes take place. Another example is Harry Kane, after his purple patch last season, it took Kane several games to get going this season. Did he get dropped? No Mauricio stuck by his man, and now both Tottenham and England are gaining from that decision.
The fact Spurs have resisted the urge to go and sign more experienced bigger known ‘superstars’ is a testament to Pochettino and his approach to help develop club talent instead. Especially in a time where money is no object to clubs such as Spurs who currently sit 2nd in the Premier League.
If we want to have real success at International level like Spain & Germany have had in recent times, Mauricio’s approach of incorporating english talent should become a must for other clubs too.
It was evident that the core of players who performed well in Saturday nights victory were mainly Tottenham players. Why? They’re used to playing with one another over an extend string of games and have taken that forward to International level too.
Dele Alli has had a remarkable season, playing with complete freedom. His link up play with Kane has been a particular highlight. But could you imagine Alli being given the same amount of first team game time if he’d of signed for Man City or Arsenal? I can’t. Undoubtedly that would have impacted his chances with the national side. So a player who definitely needs to start at the European Championships in the summer, would have been lucky to have made the squad!
The FA need to take note!
Thanks for reading!