Poch is no Pooch

New Tottenham Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino has thus far shown an ability to bond with young players.

Mauricio Pochettino


The players at Southampton and Espanyol can testify to that, indeed some of them have such a strong relationship with him that they want to rejoin him at Spurs. The club philosophy is one of buying and developing youth so the new head coach looks a good fit.

Tottenham are hoping that £30million record signing Erik Lamela, injured for most of last season, will be galvanised by having his compatriot running the show. The expectation is that he won't feel so isolated and that Spurs may even sign another Argentinian, we have been linked with enough, which would help him relax. A happy player is a player who will produce his best.

Pochettino is a coach who plans his training sessions in detail, which see him in the centre of the pitch directing operations. Like a teacher he will have his standard lesson plans. For a course a teacher has to have every lesson of the entire course planned out, what is going to be learnt each wee, where, how, what with etc.

Pochettino will have the same type of thing, the setting may differ but he will have a set series of training 'lessons' that Spurs players will now be going through. The way you teach pre-season for instance doesn't change just because you change the setting or the pupils, the may be adjustments of course, you have to be flexible, but the basic structure of his training course will remain the same.

Most of the recruitment and development of Southampton’s youngsters who have now developed into stars was dealt with by Nicola Cortese and the club’s head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell. It's a similar situation at Tottenham, where the club buys the young players to develop and passes them onto the coaching staff.

The latest of those now is Nigeria U20 winger Musa Yahaya who is simply the best player of his age group in the world. At major tournaments he stands out and Spurs fans may not know it yet but we have a potential superstar on our hands. He train with us during the summer and then move to Celta Vigo in September. We have loaned the 16 year-old out to help speed his development and I'm expecting him to have played for us before he is 20.

At their various meeting Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino discussed which area needed improvement in the side and together with Franco Baldini they all agree the defence was an area of major concern.

Spurs let in 51 goals in the Premier League last season, 23 at White Hart Lane and no club is going to have success with a defence that poor. Attack v Defence is an article that looks at the problem it creates.

If you look solely at the defenders and not the system then Hugo Lloris and Kyle Walker are on the teamsheet. After that it becomes a concern. Jan Vertonghen would be a certainty but he may be wanted by Barcelona and if they want him he would want to go you would expect, Champions League and trophies verses Spurs, not a great choice to make.

After that it's Michael Dawson who the club are trying to sell, Younes Kaboul who still hadn't got over his injury last season, Vlad Chiriches who got steadily worse, Zeki Fryers who is a novice developing and a left-back who is learning his trade as he goes, rather slowly though. It's no surprise to see Spurs actively trying to tie down the signings of a left-back and one, if not two centre-backs.

Lamela and his fellow summer signings need to develop and show why we bought them. Paulinho had a poor World Cup, so did Chadli, Soldado hasn't fired yet, it's a problem Spurs hope Pochettino has the answer for.

Up front there is Emmanuel Adebayor, a notoriously difficult character, who plays when he is happy and sulks when he is not. One is active, one is inactive and argumentative. Having contracted malaria he misses the pre-season tour to USA and Canada so Soldado will get an early chance to impress and Harry Kane gets to show the new boss what he can do. Adebayor will be playing catch-up.

Both at Southampton and Espanyol there were two sections of player. One were the managers favourites, one were not and the favoured group, it is suggested by former players, were given preferential treatment. That is tempered by the fact that it is those not in the favoured group who bring this to light and that the favoured group do seem to respond, as a clutch of Southampton players show.


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Moises Hurtado was a midfielder at Espanyol, not among the favoured.

"He wanted to control everything. The first season was fine. He’d been a player and he understood, but then things changed.

"He seemed to see conspiracy where there was none, and some good people had to leave by the back door. He wanted everyone to dance to his tune, for people to be entirely committed to him. The atmosphere ended up not being so good. But in purely sporting terms there was no problem. He got great results and we played well."

That has echoes of Louis Van Gaal about it, do as I say or leave. The fancy dans at Spurs swanning around need a bit of that, need to be reminded why they are paid and forced to give it their best. The ugly duckling needs to be turned into the swan.

Pochettino was not a whim appointment, he was meticulously studied and researched. Daniel Levy did an immense amount of digging to find out all he could about the man, the coach. That tells you that Levy wants a long-term head coach and after Andre Villas-Boas has done everything he can to get the choice right.

Time will tell if that has been successful but he has been given a wonderful opportunity. A talented squad under performing, get them playing as a team, working hard for the cause and you instantly have a team that can challenge for the top four and trophies. All you then have to do is add more quality and bring the young quality through.

The question for me is how long will it take him to do it, with a similar system already played I'm hoping not too long.



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