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Monday 23 July 2018

Has Spurs boss set himself up for potentially big fall?

Brave New World - Inside Pochettino's Spurs
Brave New World - Inside Pochettino's Spurs

Book review - Alan Aherne

I may be a long-time Spurs fan, but I'm not sure if manager Mauricio Pochettino has made the right move by collaborating in the publication of a book on his inner workings when he is still in charge.

'Brave New World - Inside Pochettino's Spurs' may be a very revealing and interesting read, but isn't the popular Argentinian simply setting himself up for a fall?

After all, the only thing a manager at that level will be judged by when his tenure comes to an end is trophies, and so far he has been lacking on that front.

I know that Champions League qualification is the main target because of the financial benefits it brings, and that box has been ticked with some aplomb.

Still, most fans of any team like to see their captain collecting a cup at the end of the season, and it's ten years now since Spurs have been in that position.

There is an interesting season-by-season comparison to the rear of the book, showing the upward curve in the three completed campaigns Pochettino has presided over thus far.

And it's very impressive on all five counts: finishing positions of fifth, third and second in that order; points tallies of 64, 70 and 86; goals scored numbering 58, 69 and 86; goals conceded reduced from 53 to 35 to 26; and clean sheets rising from nine to 13 to 17.

But does it not follow, then, that anything less than finishing as champions next May will burst the bubble? And, let's face it, that clearly isn't going to happen.

Personally I believe that all managers, regardless of their sport, would be better off waiting until they have left the role before waxing lyrical on their methods and achievements.

However, journalist Guillem Balagué was granted unprecedented access to Pochettino and his backroom staff over the course of last season, and this is the result.

The boss has always struck me as a very level-headed and unassuming figure in his after-match interviews, and this is reflected in the progress he has made and those statistics outlined above.

That's why the general tone of the book caught me by surprise, because he comes across on the contrary as someone who isn't in the least bit shy about patting himself on the back at every opportunity.

Perhaps some of his thoughts were misinterpreted or lost in translation, but there's a lot of self-praise involved, too much for my liking.

Having said that, it's an interesting insight into how the football world operates at the top level, and it's far removed from the norm.

At one point Pochettino wonders which one of his three cars he will drive to training. His Smart car is at the lower end of the scale, and he opts instead for the Bentley that Chairman Daniel Levy gave him as a present - nice work if you can get it!

The book does highlight the very close relationship between the manager and the man he is directly answerable to, and Levy is fulsome in his praise of Pochettino's willingness to buy into the Spurs way which is to nurture home-grown talent rather than spending big in the transfer market.

The development of Harry Kane from a callow youth to one of the top strikers in the world is a case in point, although how long he - or, indeed, Pochettino himself - remains at the club remains to be seen.

Finishing above arch-rivals Arsenal for the first time in 22 years was another achievement that brought the native of Murphy in Argentina a lot of credit. A repeat, and some silverware, will be the next expectation at the very least if he is to build on his work to date.

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