Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking from Tottenham came as a shock to many. It left the social media world in a frenzy. The reasons stated for the departure included concern of a breakdown of the relationship with Daniel Levy. Even though it sounds surprising now, Pochettino is unemployed.
This will now attract many potential suitors. It could well force them to look at their current manager and think about their futures – that’s the power of a manager as effective as Pochettino.
The club that could well be the closest to the Argentine is Barcelona themselves. Considering Pochettino’s links with the city of Barcelona through Espanyol, the Catalan side would naturally be an option.
While no fresh links have come up, Barca would be looking at Ernesto Valverde. They would be thinking that if there is a manager like Pochettino available, why would they trust someone who has failed to deliver much at the Nou Camp.
Valverde was appointed in the summer of 2017, and since then he oversaw the club endure two semi-final eliminations in the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool and Roma over the last two consecutive seasons.
Valverde has hardly been popular with the fans either. His approach to the game has never connected well with the Nou Camp faithful. It is in stark contrast to what the Barca fans have been used to over the past decade.
In the 2012-13 season, Barcelona had an average possession of 64.9%. They won the La Liga that season and played the sort of football that the fans have always wanted. Valverde’s system, meanwhile, is known to be more pragmatic and direct. The Spaniard has also been criticised for failing to manage big games tactically – that is evident from the losses to Roma and Liverpool.
They even lost the Copa del Rey final to Valencia last season. Just when Valverde seemed close to a potential sack, Barca kept him in charge. And despite multiple disappointments, Valverde has been at the Nou Camp with zero threat of an axing. All that, despite the club not having made progress in Europe.
Pochettino, though, has impressed much more. His Tottenham side spent nothing in the summer of 2018 and despite that, they got a top-four finish and reached a Champions League final in sensational fashion.
Their playing style hasn’t been great over the last 12 months. Yet at the peak of their power, Spurs played a brand of football that made everyone sit up and admire them. They pressed high up the pitch and this saw the emergence of players who are now household names.
Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min, Harry Winks, and Eric Dier became stars. Pochettino gave Spurs an identity that they have become known for in the modern-day.
Over the years, Pochettino has used multiple formations too. In the 2016-17 season, he constantly changed from a 3-4-2-1 shape to a flat back-four. The same took place in the 2017-18 season when Spurs were flexible in shapes but the system remained the same.
Sir Alex Ferguson himself has been full of praise for Pochettino over the years. He once said (via Manchester Evening News):
“Well the manager has been fantastic. They have a bad record of managers, there is no doubt about that. They have had so many over the years, but this lad has composure. You never see him ruffled and the way his team play is a testimony to the work he is doing.“
Everything points to him being a better manager than most. What he did is something no-one can achieve in the modern-day game. On a budget that is nothing compared to that of the other powerhouse clubs, he took Spurs close to the pinnacle.
When Valverde has spent €240 million in three summers, Pochettino lies at the other end of the spectrum. He has made just about everything out of nothing. While the Argentine has categorically denied ever managing Barca for the future, things can change quickly in football.