Chairman Daniel Levy has been studiously searching for a new man to replace Tim Sherwood on a full-time basis since informing the caretaker of his release last month—and now he has found his man.
The Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as our new Head Coach on a five-year contract.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 27, 2014
"Poch" arrived at Southampton midway through the 2012-13 season much to the annoyance of Saints fans, with former manager Nigel Adkins being ruthlessly removed from his position despite recently securing a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
But the initial moans and groans began evaporating as the former Espanyol coach's methods took shape, and the drastic improvement of a number of talents, including Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and, specifically, Jay Rodriguez, won the crowd round.
He quickly garnered a reputation for being very tactically astute; he got the best out of any given XI and recruited wisely during the summer transfer window too.
Saints signed Osvaldo to provide depth up front and run in behind Rickie Lambert to provide a direct threat. Without him, Rodriguez filled the role superbly, but the team began tiring in games due to the tiny squad available to Pochettino.
They began the season pressing high, harrying opponents and creating turnovers. By November, the pressing game was almost gone, shelved due to player exhaustion.
Southampton developed a frustrating habit of fading in games, and if they failed to find a second goal in the first half, they'd often draw the match or even lose.
This won't be a problem at Tottenham Hotspur, now Pochettino has taken the reins, and it represents the perfect club for him to take his next step up the management ladder.
Spurs' squad is packed with options for a heavy rotation, and the high-press strategy Pochettino used at both Espanyol and Southampton can return. Sandro can be his Morgan Schneiderlin, Erik Lamela his Rodriguez, and Kyle Walker his marauding, dominant full-back.
He could use a few additions here and there, namely a left-back to compete with Benoit Assou-Ekotto and replace Danny Rose, but crucially, Poch won't be facing the mass exodus Southampton appear to be readying themselves for.
At his final press conference of the season, the Argentine stressed he needs a "project" he can get on board with. He seemed non-committal about Southampton, at the very least, and it became obvious to the media present that he would not stay if his prize assets were sold.
Pochettino talking to Spurs is the biggest indicator yet that any of Lallana, Schneiderlin, Shaw and Dejan Lovren could be off this summer, but he's not just jumping ship for the closest one afloat.
Spurs is a great job for him. The fit—both on and off the pitch—is snug.
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless stated otherwise.