Why Mauricio Pochettino Is Facing Pre-Season of Change at Tottenham Hotspur

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Why Mauricio Pochettino Is Facing Pre-Season of Change at Tottenham Hotspur
David Ramos/Getty Images
Mauricio Pocchetino watches on during Southampton's first pre-season friendly last summer, a 2-1 win over Spanish side Llagostera.

Mauricio Pochettino's appointment as Tottenham Hotspur manager means a summer of change for a club already well used to it.

Tottenham are adapting to the way of thinking of yet another head coach. That means whole levels of discussion we are not privy to behind the scenes on matters influencing his work on the football side.

More pertinently to supporters, his thinking as it relates directly to the first team will be of most interest moving forward.

In an introductory interview with Spurs TV earlier this month (video above), Pochettino outlined the general ideas that will inform the players' training when they return for pre-season:

The players don't have to be afraid. Our style is demanding, sometimes too much, but we use common sense. We demand a lot from them. Our style, our philosophy is suffer in training so you don’t suffer in the game. But the players don’t have to be afraid because we work with common sense all the time. We can only expect full commitment and a positive attitude.

The process of getting to know Pochettino as Tottenham's manager (not necessarily the exact same coach as the one who bossed Espanyol and Southampton) will obviously run parallel to him getting to know his new club.

The Argentinian doing so is no small matter. Though several aspects of the upcoming pre-season will be familiar, some new experiences are ahead too.

Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Pochettino is used to hitting the ground running in management. In his first month in charge of Espanyol in January 2009, his struggling side took on Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in the Copa del Rey. They lost 3-2 on aggregate to their city rivals.

For the first time in his coaching career, Pochettino will begin a new job prior to the start of the season.

It is a different beast than being hired midway through a campaign. The mid-season adrenaline rush of taking on a team already in motion is challenging but can be harnessed to positive effect. In comparison, there is a finer art to managing the slow burn of building up to the Premier League's mid-August start.

Pochettino will probably come to prefer the latter. He will not be wanting for time to work with his new players, either.

Getting to work early in June means the 42-year-old will have more than the six days to prepare for the start of training Andre Villas-Boas had upon his appointment in July 2012.

The Portuguese was comparatively scrambling to get things in order, with the hiring of first-team coach Luis Martins only confirmed upon the players' return. (The appointment of Steffen Freund as his assistant came a couple of days later still.)

The running order of friendly fixtures should end up pretty similar to what Pochettino experienced with Southampton last year.

David Ramos/Getty Images
Pochettino issues instructions to his players during Southampton's away friendly with Celta Vigo last summer. The fixture followed a tour of Austria and preceded a home friendly with Real Sociedad.

Though not yet announced, at least a couple of games with some lower-league opposition should kick things off. While Spurs stayed in England with Swindon Town and Colchester United in 2013, his Saints side took on small Spanish outfits Llagostera and Palamos.

Then comes the foreign tour—Tottenham head to America to take on Seattle Sounders, Toronto and Chicago Fire—that is now prerequisite summer brand enhancement for top Premier League clubs.

Friendlies against more prestigious opposition—Celtic in Helsinki and then Schalke in Pochettino's White Hart Lane bow—conclude things.

Notably new for Pochettino will be accommodating the demands placed on him and his squad in the aforementioned foreign tour.

Not quite a punishing schedule, it is still demanding enough to influence the nature of his work with his team during this time. It is certainly a different prospect than taking on Schalke and Besiktas in Austria, as he did last summer with Southampton.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Tottenham last toured America in 2012 when they faced New York Red Bulls among others.. Last summer they took part in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong.

Right up until the end of August, Pochettino will, of course, also be deciding on those players he takes forward into the season. The process itself is not new to him, but the scale arguably is.

Southampton spent over £20 million on three players last summer—Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Dani Osvaldo. That was unparalleled for the club. But during that same period, Spurs spent around £100 million on seven of their own (though the expenditure was considerably aided by the sale of Gareth Bale and others).

Spurs are unlikely to be so busy again in the transfer market, but that is an example of the level they are operating at these days. Pochettino will relish the ambition but carefully consider the moves he makes given the expectancy surrounding them.

Sergei Grits/Associated Press
Pochettino will have to deal with players returning late to pre-season from the World Cup. That includes Belgium trio Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen, pictured here prior to their team's win over Algeria.

He will also be dealing with the scattered later returns of players involved in the World Cup for the first time. Prior to this year, he only ever had to deal with one player coming back from a summer away on significant international duty—Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni after the 2010 World Cup.

A busy couple of months are ahead for Pochettino before things get even more frantic as the 2014-15 Premier League season commences.

There is no single formula to the ideal pre-season. Whatever Pochettino settles on, this is shaping up to be the biggest one yet in his time as a manager.

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