Will Pochettino finally clinch silverware this season?

Will Pochettino finally clinch silverware this season?

In his fourth season with the North London powerhouses, will this finally be the time Mauricio Pochettino wins silverware with Tottenham?

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is deemed worldwide to be one of the most promising managers currently in the game. The 46-year-old Argentinian, who began his managerial career at La Liga outfit Espanyol back in 2009, made headlines in the English game after guiding Southampton to an eighth placed finish in the Premier League in his first full season at the club. This was Saints’ highest league finish since 2002/3, and their best ever points tally in since the league was birthed back in 1992.

During his short tenure at St Mary’s, Pochettino recorded memorable victories over the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, whilst also getting the club playing an extremely distinctive, attack-minded style of football. Due to this, the former defender, who made over 500 senior appearances throughout his career for the likes of Newell’s Old Boys, Espanyol, PSG & Bordeaux, was poached by Tottenham in 2014.

A fresh challenge at White Hart Lane

After capturing the attention of almost every club in the Premier League following his terrific work at Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino was appointed head coach of Tottenham Hotspur on a five-year contract in the summer of 2014. In his first season at the club, he guided Spurs to the final of the League Cup but narrowly missed out on silverware after losing 2-0 to Chelsea. A third placed finish was to follow for Pochettino in his second season in charge of the North Londoner’s, after Leicester shocked the footballing world by winning the title by a colossal 10 points.

The following season (2016/17), Spurs went onto record their highest ever Premier League finish as runners-up behind Chelsea, but failed to take advantage of their position in Europe, finishing third in their Champions League group before tumbling out of the Europa League to the hands of Belgian outfit Gent in embarrassing fashion. A fresh start was required for Pochettino; confidence was low at the club after a shambolic campaign in Europe and after work commenced on the building of their new stadium, fans became nervous over the fate of their team as home games were moved to Wembley for the 2017/18 season.

The unrest surrounding Tottenham’s temporary home was understandable, as they had performed so poorly at the iconic stadium in both the Champions League and Europa League the season before. However, with just two defeats on ‘home’ soil all season, Spurs actually went onto endure an extremely promising campaign. Unlike the previous season, Tottenham excelled themselves in the Champions League, topping a group that contained both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, whilst also beating Zinedine Zidane’s dominant Los Blancos 3-1 at Wembley. Juventus sadly put an end to Tottenham’s progression within the prestigious competition in the Last 16, however it was a huge improvement to what had gone before. An FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United back in April rubbed salt in the wounds for Tottenham, further enhancing their label as the ‘nearly men’ in English football.

After beating Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley, confidence was high for Spurs.

Placing trust in youth was a risk that paid off for Pochettino

Perhaps the biggest achievement Pochettino has made since joining Tottenham is giving players like Harry Kane and Eric Dier the chance to shine in the first team. Kane especially, when you look at the player he is today you can’t help but feel why it took so long for a manager to realise his full potential? After several loan spells in the Championship with Millwall, Norwich and Leicester, Pochettino took a gamble with Kane, starting him over then forward Roberto Saldado for the majority of the 2014/15 campaign.

This bold decision was to be heavily rewarded, as the young English forward went on to score 31 goals in all competitions – the first Tottenham player to reach that milestone since Gary Lineker back in 1991/92. Kane was then voted the PFA Young Player of the Year, and also lined up alongside Chelsea’s Diego Costa in the PFA Team of the Year, rounding off a terrific season at White Hart Lane. The 25-year-old has now finished the previous four seasons as Tottenham’s top goalscorer, and was named captain of England ahead of the recent World Cup in Russia. He is deemed to be one of, if not the best striker in world football and could well go on to better Alan Shearer’s record of 260 Premier League goals, and that’s all because Pochettino was brave enough to give him an opportunity.

#PriceItUp

Pochettino placed trust Kane, and he hasn’t disappointed.

Eric Dier was another player to repay the faith shown in him by Pochettino in his first season in charge of Spurs. The robust midfielder, who can also play in central defence was handed an opportunity right away, thrown into the starting line-up against West Ham on the opening day of the 14/15 campaign. Dier made the perfect start to his career in a Tottenham shirt, bagging the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win for Spurs at Upton Park. Dier went onto make 28 appearances and score two more goals that season, which led to his inclusion in the senior England squad for the friendlies against Spain and France in November 2015.

Dele Alli was also brought in by Pochettino mid-way through his first season in the White Hart Lane hot seat, but was loaned back to the Dons for the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign to gain more first team experience. After picking up the Football League’s Young Player of the Year Award following MK Dons’ promotion to the Championship, Alli returned to Spurs to link up with the first team squad in pre season, and was thrusted into the starting line-up against Manchester United to make his debut for the club on the opening day of the 2015/16 season. The rest, as they say, is history. Since that day Alli has gone onto play 106 matches for Spurs, scoring 37 goals and securing his position in the England team as the Three Lions main attacking central midfielder. Aside from the 22-year-old’s hard work and determination, the one factor that remains is Pochettino. Just like Kane and Dier, he was given the opportunity to flourish at the very top and has well and truly repaid the faith put into him by his manager.

Eric Dier and Dele Alli were also given the opportunity to flourish at the very top.

“But he hasn’t actually won anything?”

When talking about Pochettino, the way he gets the best out of his players and how he has taken average sides to dizzy heights, one fact still remains: he’s never won anything as a manager. This can’t be ignored and has to change soon should he continue to manage at the top level. Like we have already discussed, Tottenham have over the years became the ‘nearly men’ of English football, constantly coming to within touching distance of silverware, but just not quite making it. They put the pressure on, that’s it. This season, they’ll be looking to change this, but you can’t help but think that after bringing in no new players throughout the transfer window, will they be able to properly compete or will be the same old story – come close but ultimately win nothing?

A new stadium will bring with it plenty of fresh optimism this season. The £800million project, which is due to be completed for Tottenham’s second home game of the season against Liverpool on September 15th, will certainly give the North London club a boost and bring back a more homely feel to games, but will it help? After building on previous seasons bit by bit over the past five years, this season is surely the time Spurs go one better and clinch silverware. Their performance in the Champions League was promising last term, and should Harry Kane continue to display the form that he has over the past four seasons, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Pochettino’s first trophy in football management is on its way.

Will this finally be the year the Argentinian clinches silverware?