This seems like the debate we are going to be having often between now and the summer: should Mauricio Pochettino stay or go?
Sorry to be the Grinch on Christmas Eve, Spurs fans, but all the signs are pointing towards Pochettino leaving Tottenham this summer.
Pochettino only signed a new contract with Spurs in the summer to commit himself to the north London club as they’re finally set to move into their new stadium in the next few months. But that doesn’t mean their period of austerity is over, but it certainly signals a new era Spurs want Pochettino to lead them into. It will not be as simple as that.
Yet with both Manchester United and Real Madrid said to favor him as their next permanent manager, the bidding war for Pochettino has likely already begun behind closed doors and Daniel Levy will not be having a peaceful festive period.
Does Pochettino stay at Spurs and finish his project with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and the fine squad he has assembled and continue to grind every ounce of effort and talent out of them?
Or does he head to one of the biggest clubs on the planet in Man United where he will get the chance to truly redesign the way they play and what goes on behind-the-scenes to suit him best?
This may be one of the toughest decisions any manager has ever had to make, as the potential Spurs have is clear. If Poch goes, it is likely Kane, Alli and Co. follow him out of the door and the entire project will need to start again. His stock has never been higher and Pochettino may never be able to better what he’s doing at Spurs right now. They have hit their ceiling.
Pochettino has worked wonders over the past four years with them, turning young talent into world-class players and after their 6-2 shellacking of Everton, he has Spurs six points off the top of the PL table, in the UEFA Champions League last 16 and League Cup semifinals. All of that while not signing a single player over the summer and having to deal with the issues surrounding the stadium move and hanging out at Wembley a little longer.
The only reason Poch wouldn’t head to United is if he won either the PL or Champions League trophy at Spurs. How could he leave then? His players put on a show at Everton and are perhaps fighting not only for their own futures but also for that of their club. They want to show their boss they can reach another level and they know Pochettino is that important to Tottenham’s trajectory in the coming years.
But if he heads to United, he will be given large amounts of cash to spend on new players, something he has never had at Southampton or Tottenham in the Premier League, and he will be able to take his talents to the ‘next level’ per se, in terms of resources.
He has always been ambitious and his drive to be the best with a clear philosophy of using young players and playing a high-pressing game has inspired plenty of other PL clubs to follow suit in hiring managers with similar traits. Pochettino said very little for months when he left Southampton to join Tottenham, and he will be the same as he is asked about heading to United in the coming months.
But is the grass always greener? That is what Pochettino has to decide.
He was correct in deciding to leave Southampton for Tottenham in 2014, but the gulf in the size and resources of those clubs was clear. Can that be said for the gap between Tottenham and United? Spurs are a club on the up in so many ways, while United are stagnant after the failed tenures of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. But a sizeable jolt in the right direction would wake them up in a big way and it is likely the entire United hierarchy understands they’ve messed up big time in recent years.
That plays perfectly into Pochettino’s hands and he will get the power he demands, while his former head of recruitment at Southampton and Spurs, Paul Mitchell, is rumored to be heading to United in the overhaul of their football operations.
Of course, United could stick with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer permanently if he works wonders between now and the end of his caretaker role in May. But we have to be honest, the whole reason United hired a caretaker manager in the first place is because Pochettino wasn’t going to be able to, and didn’t want to, leave Spurs midseason.
Right now, for him and his staff, this decision will probably be the toughest Pochettino has ever had to make.
But this all comes down to one thing: ambition. And Pochettino has plenty of it.
Pochettino should continue the trajectory of his career and move to United to become a hero at Old Trafford. As harsh as that sounds, that is the next step in his career and it seems like it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity he cannot turn down.
Merry Christmas, Spurs fans…