Let’s give credit where credit is due: Mauricio Pochettino is, if nothing else in the world, remarkably consistent.
No, we’re not talking about the fact that under his leadership Tottenham Hotspur have achieved a top-three finish in three straight seasons — and appear headed for another one this season — but about the way in which he maintains the same mindset and mantra no matter what the Premier League table says.
On Wednesday, barely an hour after Tottenham hammered Bournemouth 5-0 — on the back of a 6-2 demolition of Everton on the weekend — to go second in the PL table, a point ahead of defending champions Manchester City, one might assume that Pochettino would finally relent and admit that his side is a bonafide title contender.
One would, of course, be wrong — quotes from the BBC:
“We are in a very good position, but Liverpool and Manchester City are the real contenders.
“It is one thing to be a point above them, but Manchester City are the reigning champions and Liverpool are doing fantastic. We are between them and there is still a lot of work to do.
“It is important to manage confidence in the right way, a victory makes us believe, of course, but we think step by step and make sure we can be ready to arrive at the next game in the best condition. The competition is very demanding, be sure to be ready to compete in three days.
“We are only halfway to the end of the season, we need to replicate the same second-half of the season. It is up to us, if we show the same quality and same belief and behave in the way we behave, then maybe at the end of the season we can talk in the way that maybe we fight for big things.
“I am so pleased [with the win] the effort was fantastic. To have one day less after Everton I am very pleased with the performance.”
While Pochettino’s comments were laughably predictable, there’s probably also a hint of truth in them. Sure, Spurs sit second in the table at the halfway point of the season, but the fact remains that Man City are still the side most likely to finish as runners-up or catch Liverpool.
What Spurs have managed to achieve thus far, under very tough circumstances — no signings in the summer transfer window, no home stadium and a constant rash of injuries from August to December, to name a few — has been nothing short of miraculous. That said, the necessary reinforcements aren’t likely to arrive in January and that will almost certainly lead to Spurs running out of gas down the stretch, as has been the case in recent seasons.
However, the fact that Pochettino has managed to stabilize the on-field results with so much background noise serving as a distraction is arguably his greatest miracle to date. At some point, chairman Daniel Levy would be wise to back his manager and show him that (the new) White Hart Lane is a place he can win titles.