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Mauricio Pochettino: What went wrong in Tottenham?

What went wrong with Pochettino at Tottenham?
It’s no news that the spurs team that we saw in the last days of the Argentine coach was nothing close to what they were, which in recent times, a top European team. They had successfully made room for themselves among the top teams in EPL, making it 6 from the originally established 5. This major fall from grace, eventually cost the argentine tactician his job, and we would be lifting the lid on why things went south suddenly.

Having turned them from Europa league strugglers into a genuine UCL contender with little or no budget, their collapse under his reign this season was more than dramatic. At some point, they languished in 14th position, more than 13 points behind league runaway leaders Liverpool, completely ruining any hope of winning the league. Champions league qualification turned the main target.

This fall loss could be attributed to so many on field problems. Ranging from lack of concentration to seemingly playing like there is nothing to lose, leaving fans to argue that this incredibly good crop of players lost believe due to lack of trophies. Although this could actually be said to be a major contributor, in the real sense, a higher percentage went to the unresolved key player’s contract situation.
Daniel Levy is known to be a shrewd business man, taking care of player’s contracts well before their final 18 months, as well as squeezing out the maximum transfer fee possible from poaching clubs, when he decides to finally sell. A good youth to first team transition, as well as an eye for talented young players, who then go on to be superstars, is also on his MO.

This structure, alongside having the perfect manager in Pochettino, allowed spurs to compete with the very best without having to spend much. Come 2019/2020 season however, things didn’t go as planned. Although they finally got their new stadium, and was able to fork out large transfer fees for new signings, key players like Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen paid the price as per contract renewal. Dier and Rose were also approaching their final contract years.

While the financial structures and sources for their stadium was sorted out, the contract situation of these key players were somewhat neglected. Entering into their final year and the latter part of their career, the possibility of signing for any of the best teams in the Europe with a big paycheck would surely be enticing to anyone, and considering their qualities, they can probably walk into any team in the world, and in this case, for free.

From the look of things, Spurs resigned to losing them, but with no adequate replacements brought in during summer transfer, Poch was forced to play these unsettled players week in and out. Before his departure in January, Eriksen was no longer a guaranteed started, and the Vertonghen-Alderweireld partnership which was once seen as among the best in Europe, started shipping in goals for fun. Examples are seen in the 7-2 trumping by Bayern, 2-2 comeback draw of arsenal, and 2-1 loss to Leicester city.

In a lump sum, it’s horrible defending when this two step on the pitch, prompting Poch to roll out anything but them side by side since the 3 nil defeat to Brighton back in November 2019. As times progressed, injuries started taking a toll too, with key players like Harry Kane, Son, Lamela, Ndombele, Anderweireld, Eric Dier, Danny rose, Lucas Moura and Dele Ali, spending time on the treatment bed.

Rumors of a clear out in January circled, which ended with just Eriksen’s departure, Steven Bergwin’s arrival and Anderweireld extending his contract till 2023. Poch didn’t even make it past December. We can all agree on the fact that a solution was needed, and in Daniel Levy’s words a change had to be made in the club’s best interests. Pochettino ultimately paid the price for poor management, coupled with bad injury luck to key players.

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