Champions League

Pochettino eyes defining Spurs moment

2018-03-06 08:45
Mauricio Pochettino (Getty Images)

London - Mauricio Pochettino faces a defining moment as the Tottenham Hotspur manager aims to joins the managerial elite by masterminding a famous Champions League triumph against Juventus on Wednesday.

Long regarded as one of the sport's brightest young managers, Pochettino can use this season's Champions League to reach the rarified air inhabited by the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Diego Simeone.

Like his former Argentina team-mate Simeone, Pochettino is coveted by some of Europe's biggest clubs.

But while Simeone has defied the odds to lead Atletico Madrid to La Liga and Europa League titles, as well as reaching two Champions League finals, Pochettino is still waiting for his breakthrough moment.

Despite earning plaudits throughout his nine-year managerial career with Espanyol, Southampton and now Tottenham, the 46-year-old has failed to lead any of his clubs to a major trophy.

Clearly, silverware isn't the only measure of a manager and no one would doubt Pochettino overachieved at Espanyol and Southampton given the lack of financial backing available.

Although Tottenham have greater resources than either of Pochettino's other teams, they largely steer clear of the huge fees paid by their top four rivals in the Premier League.

Since arriving in north London 2014, Pochettino has deftly navigated those constraints to turn Tottenham into a genuine top four force after years of underachievement.

But the crucial black mark on Pochettino's CV remains his failure to push Tottenham across the finish line when they have been on the brink of landing a trophy.

Having reached the League Cup final in 2015, Pochettino's side slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat against Chelsea, while in 2016 a late-season swoon allowed Leicester to coast to the Premier League title.

A vital loss at West Ham cost Tottenham dearly last season when they were unable to keep pace with eventual champions Chelsea, who also knocked out their rivals in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Tottenham's struggles in away games against their main rivals have been a constant problem throughout Pochettino's reign, dooming them to also-ran status in this season's title chase.

But Tottenham's Champions League exploits over the last few months suggest any inferiority complex is being eroded at last.

FOOTBALL IS A JOY

That certainly seemed the case when they crushed European champions Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley with a vibrant display that showcased the best of Pochettino's high-tempo philosophy.

That impressive result came after a draw in Madrid and recovering from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the last 16 first leg against Juventus was another step in the right direction.

With Tottenham hoping to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2011, eliminating the Italian champions would be another step towards the top table for Pochettino.

His appetite for success is driving him on and, after admitting he once thought of quitting management by the time he was 50, the Argentine now plans a long career on the bench.

"When I started as a manager I was 36, I said, 'Okay, I will be a manager and my limit is 50'," Pochettino said.

"Now, I don't know if I will be longer like Roy (Hodgson) or (Sir Alex) Ferguson or Wenger or maybe I will stop before.

"When I watch football and the manager always criticises everyone and sees the phantom and tries to defend himself and fight with you and fight with the fans and fight with this. That is no life.

"I want to improve and try to enjoy doing my job but if I am going to suffer or create drama in my life, I would prefer to go away.

"Football is a joy. The most quiet I am is when we are going to compete. It's not a drama. For other people it's different but for me football is not a drama - it is a joy."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Tuesday, 02 October 2018
Juventus v Young Boys, Allianz Stadium 18:55
Hoffenheim v Manchester City, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 18:55
Bayern Munchen v Ajax, Allianz-Arena 21:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Shakhtar Donetsk, Groupama OL Academy Decines-Charpieu 21:00
Manchester United v Valencia, Old Trafford 21:00
AEK Athens v Benfica, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 21:00
Roma v Viktoria Plzen, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
CSKA Moskva v Real Madrid, VEB Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
PSG v Crvena Zvezda, Parc des Princes 18:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Schalke 04, RZD Arena 18:55
Porto v Galatasaray, Estadio Do Dragao 21:00
Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:00
PSV v Internazionale, Philips Stadion 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Napoli v Liverpool, Stadio San Paolo 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona, Wembley Stadium 21:00
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.