Late on Tuesday afternoon, Tottenham Hotspur confirmed the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager.
In a similar fashion to previous managerial appointments—like Pochettino's predecessor Tim Sherwood last December—chairman Daniel Levy was effusive in his praise of his latest hiring. He told Tottenham's official website:
In Mauricio I believe we have a Head Coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our Club. He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality.
We have a talented squad that Mauricio is excited to be coaching next season.
It is hard to escape the notion that the more things change at Spurs, though, the more they stay the same.
For the second time under the ENIC regime, the North Londoners have taken a manager from Southampton. Incidentally, Pochettino's five-year contract is the same length of time Glenn Hoddle was also awarded in 2001.
Hoddle's plans back then, via BBC Sport, of "looking to the future" were torn up within three years. The White Hart Lane hot seat has only increased in temperature since then, with the annual demand of securing Champions League football appearing to have already been placed on Pochettino.
According to The Mirror's John Cross, "Levy has spelled out that the club expect to be challenging for the top four and there are understood to be clauses in Pochettino’s deal in case he does not make it into Europe’s elite."
The Daily Express' Tony Banks has also reported the Argentinian has "been told he will be expected to bring Champions League football to the club."
Perhaps the Spurs hierarchy will allow Pochettino some leeway in his first season, especially given how competitive the upper echelon of the Premier League is right now. Given their previous, you already cannot help but gloomily fear for the new boss' job if a top-four place is not secured a year from now.
Tottenham have the talent capable of competing with the division's best. The moment, however, when qualifying for Europe's premier club competition was well within the club's grasp, has passed.
Although still a realistic target, the state of the Premier League is such that a top-four place can no longer be expected. Champions Manchester City and Chelsea are not going anywhere, while Arsenal and Liverpool look as promising as they have in several years. Manchester United have just hired a proven first-class coach in Louis van Gaal, while Everton under Roberto Martinez are a dark horse not to be dismissed.
It is a shame because, given time to work on his team, there is plenty to suggest Pochettino could be a good fit for Spurs.
Levy himself told Sky Sports News' Jim White: "We have a man who knows the right balance between experience and youth - in the new world of financial fair play, that's very important."
In the statement introducing their new manager, the club made sure to reference Pochettino's overseeing of "the progress of home-grown stars such as Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers" at Southampton.
Between the promising homegrown and bought young players already at Spurs, as well as the more expensively recruited and experienced campaigners, Pochettino has the materials to replicate the healthy balance he struck on the South coast.
After the dourness of the football played in Andre Villas-Boas' latter days in charge, and Tim Sherwood's more flexible—some would say—reckless approach, Levy is also banking on the implementation of the 42-year-old's "high energy, attacking football," and that he "will embrace the style of play we associate with our Club."
The above, excellent article by The Guardian's Sid Lowe last year looked at how Pochettino's "players talk about 'hierarchy', 'intensity', 'effort', 'seriousness' and 'discipline'; exactly the qualities that define the manager and always have." Through those attributes, Spurs will hope to see the emergence of an exciting but well-organised on-pitch product.
There will be question marks over Pochettino's ability to win over a Tottenham changing room that appears to get on well enough but is probably a little too soft in some areas.
The club have built up his "proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality," per their statement, but Lowe's piece highlights some difficulties Pochettino had at Espanyol (albeit having made the transition to manager from a player who had been friendly with several of his new charges).
Having initially gotten the better of Sherwood's Spurs last season, Southampton went on to lose to them twice. Although possibly just demonstrating the limitations of his Saints side, Pochettino's game plans were nonetheless quickly sussed out.
Yet, if Tottenham do not break their revolving-door habit which has both shaped and undermined their efforts in recent years, it is unlikely we will even get close to finding out how Pochettino fares with all of the above.
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