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What it would mean if Pochettino left Tottenham

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When Tottenham announced on May 24 that it had signed Mauricio Pochettino, it seemed that the Argentine and the club would be together well into the future, with both sides expressing joy at clinching the deal.

Then Zinedine Zidane shocked the world on Thursday.

And now, a day later, Pochettino has admitted to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial that “when Real Madrid calls, you have to listen.”

[Watch: “Lego” UEFA Champions League]

It would be a crushing blow for Tottenham to lose Pochettino, not only because it had just signed him to a new deal, but also because of how Pochettino has transformed the club.

In the years before Pochettino arrived, Tottenham was routinely the team finishing just outside the top four, constantly missing out on the Champions League while never really challenging for titles. Big players came through during the club’s first 20 years in the Premier League, but in the B.P. (before Pochettino) era, Tottenham’s highest Premier League finish was a single fourth place finish in 2010.

Since arriving in 2014, Pochettino has not only launched Tottenham into the top four, he’s changed the overall ethos of the club, giving his side and its fans belief that they can actually compete for a league or cup title. Yes, there have been disappointments, like the poor form in the UEFA Champions League in 2016 and falling short in the title race against Leicester City.

But on the other hand, Pochettino has unearthed and developed global stars in Dele Alli, Eric Dier and of course Harry Kane, and the young squad could stay together this summer and push toward greater heights in the league and in Europe under Pochettino.

Which brings us to Real Madrid. The Times of London is reporting that it would take a monstrous $56.6 million to buy Pochettino out of his Tottenham contract. While that should bring some relief to Tottenham fans, Real Madrid effectively can print its own money with the kind of global revenues they earn and if Florentino Perez feels pressured to hire the Argentine, no amount of money will stop him.

It would be a massive loss to Tottenham and the Premier League should Pochettino leave at this point of the Spurs project. Hopefully, he stays around to see it come to fruition.

Wenger, Conte among favorites to replace Zidane

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The dust has barely settled at Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane announced his dramatic departure as manager, but already there’s plenty of talk about who could take charge of the Spanish giants next.

[ MORE: Guerrero cleared for World Cup ]

Zidane, 45, walked away from the Santiago Bernabeu just five days after winning his third-straight UEFA Champions League title as Real boss. Talk about a mic-drop moment…

His three years in charge of Los Blancos will surely go down in history as one of the greatest managerial stints ever and is unlikely to be replicated.

But who’s next in the notoriously toasty hot seat for Real’s president Florentino Perez? Real’s president seemed slightly stunned that Zidane had stepped down but knows he needs to act fast to keep his superstars in check over the summer and allow Real to build on their success.

Via Oddschecker, here’s a look at the favorites to replace Zidane.


Arsene Wenger – 3/1 – Now this would be something, wouldn’t it? Real have tried to get Wenger in the past but the Frenchman always resisted their advances to remain in charge of his beloved Arsenal. Now he’s a free man and has been speaking about his next managerial move being overseas, what’s to stop this happening? Could Wenger handle the egos of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale? His style of play would certainly delight the Real fans and this would be some way for Wenger to get back on the coaching carousel.

Antonio Conte – 4/1 – Look, his stock is still incredibly high across Europe despite what happened at Chelsea this season. A Premier League title, a fifth-place finish and an FA Cup in his two seasons at Stamford Bridge isn’t bad at all and Conte has proven he can work with big-name players at Juventus, Italy and Chelsea. Real could do a lot worse and Conte and Chelsea may have found the perfect escape route for their uncomfortable situation as the Italian enters the final year of his contract.

Mauricio Pochettino – 6/1 – Now, the Argentine has just signed a new long-term deal with Spurs until 2023 and seems very happy at Tottenham. There are also reports out there that Tottenham didn’t include a release clause in Pochettino’s new deal, so it seems as though he’s staying put at White Hart Lane. But come on, it’s Real Madrid. Daniel Levy will be keen to halt the conveyor belt from North London to the Spanish capital (Ahem, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric) and stopping Pochettino from jumping ship is pivotal to keeping the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli wanting to join him in Spain. Poch will manage Real one day, that much is true. But this could be slightly too early for him.

Guti – 6/1 – Remember this guy? What a fine head of hair he had during his playing days with Real as a twinkle-toed central midfielder. Guti has been working hard behind-the-scenes at Real with their academy players and the U-19 coach is well-respected at the club. Promoting from within worked out pretty well for Florentino Perez and his board before. That said, Guti doesn’t quite have Zidane’s stature in the game so again, it may be a few years before he could take the reins. A good back-up option and a Real legend.

Massimiliano Allegri – 12/1 – It appears that he may well remain at Juventus but the Italian tactician is yet to commit his future to Juve and this opportunity would surely be intriguing for him. A coach who loves the art of defending may find it a little tough to drill the flamboyant Real stars, but for sustainable, long-term success, he’s your man. Allegri has built a fine squad at Juve and a group of players who play together instead of individuals.


Poch: It’s time for Levy to take “risks” in transfer market

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Alright, Daniel, the boys and I have done our part for three straight seasons now. We think it’s time you finally did your part and help us win some trophies.

[ MORE: 20 teams, 20 grades for the 2017-18 Premier League season ]

That’s one interpretation of Mauricio Pochettino‘s post-game press conference following Tottenham Hotspur’s season-ending 5-4 victory over Leicester City on Sunday, during which Pochettino all but laid responsibility for the next step in the club’s progression at the feet of chairman Daniel Levy.

“We are not this type of club that is going to invest crazy money,” Pochettino reminded right off the bat, but the Argentine made it very clear that he feels more is required if Tottenham are to continue challenging for trophies after finishing third, second and third in successive PL seasons: “You know me, maybe sometimes I have crazy ideas. You need to be brave. In these types of situations, with a club with our unbelievable fans, being brave is the most important thing, and [taking] risks.” Pochettino revealed he and Levy are schedule to meet sometime in the next week to discuss the summer transfer window — quotes from Football.London:

“I think I have very clear ideas of what we need to do. I don’t know if the club will agree with me or not, but we are going to talk next week to create the new project or what I think that we need to do together again to try to improve. That is a little bit up to Daniel of course, and the club to agree with us. I think after four years I think we need to assess that period and try to, if we want to play and be really contenders for big, big trophies, I think we need to review a little bit the thing.”

“The club’s ambition always is to win. The difficult thing is how you can be close to winning. I think it’s so important to move to the new stadium, the facilities are unbelievable, but not only with the new stadium we are going to be close to winning. … Of course the ambition of the club will be to win. Now maybe we are a little bit disappointed and frustrated because now we are close. But that is the first step, to be close, challenge the big sides, the sides that invest more than us and we need to try to find a way.”

“I think Daniel is going to listen to me, of course. … No, for sure Daniel is going to listen to me and we can create together to help the team move on.”

Asked if he would unequivocally commit to being at Spurs come August — given the rumors frequently linking him to some of Europe’s more, shall we say, free-spending clubs — Pochettino once again put the ball in Levy’s court.

“In football, you never know. I repeat from my last press conference, today 100 percent I feel that I am here. But the most important thing is that tomorrow all can change because it’s not in my hands. It’s not my decision to be here or not. I depend on my bosses. That is why. It’s healthy for myself, and us and the club and for the fans of course to think that you can lose your job tomorrow. … Today, yes, 100 percent.”

Premier League Preview: West Brom v. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • West Brom has just one win in last 16 against Spurs
  • Tottenham has scored at least once in last 23 league matches
  • Baggies winless in previous six home games (2D, 4L)

West Bromwich Albion hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Baggies aim to stay afloat in the Premier League.

Anything outside of a victory in their final two matches will see West Brom drop to the Championship, as the Baggies sit on 28 points — five out of 17th place.

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The Baggies are unbeaten in their last four matches, which gives the club genuine hope heading into their last two fixtures, however, only one game has resulted in three points.

Key injuries for both sides could leave them in a bit of a pickle, as Gareth Barry and James Morrison remain sidelined for the Baggies, while Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Harry Winks won’t feature for Spurs.

What they’re saying

West Brom boss Darren Moore named Manager of the Month: “It’s great to be nominated with those calibre of managers, it really, really is – I am honoured. But I will share that nomination with everybody here at West Brom. The reason I can sit up here and talk about it is because of the tremendous work everybody has done behind the scenes.”

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino on West Brom’s recent form: “West Brom are showing great character in their last few games – the capacity to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and draw with Liverpool. They are doing fantastic in the last few months and of course they have the belief still [that they can stay up]. We are playing to be in the top four and try to play Champions League next season. I think it will be a massive battle for them, but also for us.”

Prediction

The task is anything but simple for the Baggies, particularly against a Spurs side with so much quality. Darren Moore’s side has performed admirably over the last month, but the team needed at least another victory during that span to have a legitimate shot at safety. Even with two wins down the stretch, which isn’t likely, survival isn’t a certainty for the West Midlands side. West Brom 1-3 Tottenham

Taking stock of Premier League managers in post-Wenger era

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It’s been just under four years since Tottenham Hotspur appointed Mauricio Pochettino as the replacement for Tim Sherwood, not yet long enough to complete a standard high school education.

But, assuming he stays longer than season’s end, Pochettino will be the third-longest tenured manager in the Premier League, and would qualify as the dean of the league in terms of consecutive seasons with one top flight club.

[ RECAP: Spurs 2-0 Watford ]

As Sir Alex Ferguson pointed out Sunday in saluting Arsene Wenger, the days of long tenures are (mostly) done.

Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe have each been with their clubs for approximately five and a half seasons and have spent almost as long as names tipped to be hot names for any job openings deemed bigger than their current posts.

Maybe we need to start calling years by some new relative scale, as they do for dogs. Envision for a moment if you will, Wenger saying, “I managed Arsenal for 22 years, or 110 Dyche years.”

Only 11 Premier League managers have held their posts for more than a calendar year, four of whom carry the gloss of bringing their clubs up from the Championship (Dyche, Howe, Chris Hughton, and David Wagner). Remember when Jurgen Klopp was hired by Liverpool? Forty-two PL manager changes have been made since that day.

Which begs the question: Are Howe, 40, and Dyche, 46, the league’s last hopes for one manager to spend 10-straight years at a club in this Premier League climate?

With respect to Howe, who may continue to eschew other openings — he’s been whispered as the next Arsenal boss for ages — we’ll choose to focus on Dyche in this case, largely because he seems extremely likely to take Burnley on its Europa League adventure next season and, well, he’s earned free beer and his name on a pub in Burnley.