Only four years ago, barely any Premier League viewers knew of Mauricio Pochettino. Then, his only claim to fame amongst English football fans came after fouling Michael Owen to concede a decisive penalty whilst playing for Argentina at the 2002 World Cup. When he replaced Nigel Adkins in the Southampton dug-out, there was outrage.
Now, Pochettino is considered one of the best that the league has to offer. Rather than leaving Southampton fans unconvinced, he is one of the world’s most in demand football managers. Part of that has been down to his development of players.
During his time at Southampton, he brought players through and made average players look brilliant, with many earning big moves to Anfield and elsewhere as a result of their good form under the Argentinean.
At Tottenham, that has continued, instead turning the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier into players that can count themselves amongst the most exciting of their generation.
One stat that is testament to Pochettino’s superb record is that 12 of England’s last 30 debutants have been coached by the former Espanyol manager at either the Saints or the Lilywhites.
Harry Winks became the latest, joining Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez, Ryan Mason, Fraser Forster, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Adam Lallana and, perhaps most importantly of all, Harry Kane.
“[Tottenham players earning their England debuts] show Mauricio’s one of the best managers in the world, if not the best,” Kane explained to Sky Sports after his 15th goal of the season for club and country to make it five scoring games in a row with a win over Lithuania.
“He brings players through, gives them chances on the big stage and they deliver for him. We can’t thank him enough for that. He deserves all the credit. He helped us get to where we are now, and Harry [Winks] is another player under his management.”
Winks became the sixth name in the current Tottenham squad to be capped by England under Pochettino’s management with his first cap in the narrow World Cup qualifying victory.
“(Mauricio) is a fantastic manager and he has a lot of belief in us. Not only does he give us the opportunity but he gives us advice when we need it,” Winks agreed.
“I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me. I suppose it’s about me paying it back, and fortunately, it went well tonight.”
That leaves Kyle Walker-Peters as the only uncapped English player in Tottenham’s first team squad, though he has made his England under 21 debut this season under Aidy Boothroyd and a senior debut could be just a matter of time.
Keeping such a high profile squad of players happy on wages which could likely be dwarfed by some of their competitors is an equally remarkable achievement.
Their decision to stay at Wembley under Pochettino’s tutelage may well have roots in his terrific record of bringing players through. Whilst young players elsewhere struggle to nail down a regular starting spot, such as Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard at Manchester United, or even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Liverpool and recently Arsenal, Pochettino offers his players a key role.
With the spine of his side built around homegrown domestic talent, he is not only keeping Daniel Levy happy with a bargain squad, but is building for the future. Alongside the experience of the likes of Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele, Pochettino has built a finely tuned squad.
His, and Tottenham’s, success is not only good news for Spurs fans, but for English fans as a whole. As Kyle Walker-Peters, Marcus Edwards and co. come through the ranks, Spurs’ squad is well stocked with talent for the years ahead.
West Ham fans may claim that they were they key to England’s 1966 World Cup victory, and whilst that may still be some way off for the Three Lions in 2018, any potential success that Gareth Southgate can achieve will give him plenty of reasons to be thanking Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham should elevate reported interest in Leicester City protege Demari Gray
The 21-year-old could become a superstar if nurtured properly.
Tottenham Hotspur were reportedly interested in the possibility of signing Leicester City‘s attacking protege Demari Gray a few months back, according to reports from ESPN. And after a fruitless period in the search for attacking reinforcements, Mauricio Pochettino should revive his interest in sorting a deal.
Gray contributed four goals and three assists in 30 Premier League appearances last term, and is currently the captain of the England U21 squad. But he is likely to evaluate his future with the Foxes this summer, due to his lack of regular game-time. And Tottenham seems a great fit for the winger.
Spurs have pursued multiple attacking targets since the window commenced, without gathering any real traction on any of their targets, and it seems Pochettino – for once – is more concerned with making a marquee signing, than bringing in a player with the scope to develop and grow into a top player at White Hart Lane.
Talks for Anthony Martial, Christian Pulisic and Ivan Perisic have all stalled in recent times, and a move for the Leicester City man could be just the ticket for Spurs. He brings all the attributes they’re currently looking for; blistering pace, exceptional balance, end product, a cool head and notably the ability to hit an absolute cracker if awarded space.
If he reaches his peak under the guidance of Pochettino, which is more likely than not given his immense talent, the player could double in market-value and could become a key player for the Lilywhites for years to come.
Tottenham’s interest in Croatia trio justified after sensational team performance against Argentina
Tottenham fans will have heard a few familiar names last night.
Croatia heaped further misery on Argentina’s already shaky World Cup opening last night, dismantling them 3-0, and taking the top spot of Group D in the process. And Tottenham fans will have been particularly interested in the clash.
Not only was former fan-favourite Luka Modric in his usual scintillating form, but a trio of closely linked players were deployed on the night, and all three put in exceptional performances.
Ivan Perisic put in a typically tireless display last night, alternating between all three-front roles at times, while showing maturity in his decision making and genuine quality in his end product after marauding runs down both flanks.
Pochettino will have taken notice, as his side were reportedly interested in bringing the 29-year-old to north London last month, according to FC Inter News.
On top of that, the Spurs-linked midfield duo also performed brilliantly when called upon. Marcelo Brozovic (TuttoMercatoWeb) – also of Inter Milan – showed his ability to steady the ship in defensive midfield, in what was a frantic game at times, sparking counter attacks with his vision and cultured weight of pass, whilst keeping the shackles on Lionel Messi.
And Mateo Kovacic (AS), rounded off a dogged team performance with a few moments brilliance. Upon arriving into the game in the closing stages, he used his exceptional dribbling and balance to trouble a weary Argentina back-line, before showing an extremely cool head to pick out Rakitic under-pressure in the box for his outfit’s third goal.
All three put in performances worthy of top level clubs, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pochettino elevate his interest in all three after last night.
Tottenham could transform midfield with Tanguy Ndombele Harry Winks partnership
The two could seriously change the way football is played at Tottenham.
Tottenham‘s interest in Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, as reported by Sky Sports, may be closer to fruition, as the Ligue 1 club are said to have launched a move for a direct replacement, in Jean-Eudus Adoulou, according to reports from Le 10 Sport.
Ahoulou, like Mousa Dembele, is a defensive midfielder who possesses great energy and tackling skill and his arrival at Lyon from Strasbourg would surely free up Ndombele. And the Frenchman’s arrival at north London could signify a change of style at White Hart Lane.
Harry Winks is undoubtedly destined for a big future with the Lilywhites, as his current attributes aren’t possessed by any other deep-lying midfielder at the club.
His dynamism and agility add creativity to a rigid screen – usually consisting of Dembele and Victor Wanyama, or Eric Dier – designed primarily to look after the rear-guard. And he is the catalyst for crafting attacks from deep when playing.
Dembele is coming to the latter years of his career and has admitted to struggling with the physical demands of the Premier League (the Telegraph), meaning Winks’ importance will only increase as time goes on.
Add to that the addition of Ndombele, and at the ages of 22 and 21, respectively, the two could usher in a dynamic, ball carrying midfield unseen under the tutelage of Pochettino for the foreseeable future.