Paul Merson has told Soccer Saturday (broadcast on Sky Sports; 23/11; 12:07) that he could have understood Tottenham Hotspur’s decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino if they had appointed Massimiliano Allegri rather than Jose Mourinho.
Spurs left much of the football world stunned this week when they announced Pochettino’s exit. There then seemed to be just as many taken aback when it was confirmed that Mourinho had been appointed as his successor.
The move hints at a change in approach for Tottenham. Pochettino’s presence suggested that Spurs were in good hands in the long-term. Meanwhile, none of Mourinho’s managerial tenures have come that close to being as long as the time that Pochettino spent in North London.
And ahead of Mourinho’s first game in charge, Merson insisted Spurs’ decision to sack Pochettino would have been much more understandable if they went for a different name instead of the Portuguese.
“If Allegri comes in, I maybe sit here and go, you know what, I can see where they’re coming from,” he told Soccer Saturday. “There’s a plan here, ‘we need a six-year plan to get Tottenham back where they were’. This is a quick fix. ‘I need to be in the top four at the end of the season. I’ve just moved into a new stadium. We haven’t got any money, get us in the top four. Here’s a gillion quid to yourself if you get us into the top four’.”
“It’s a quick fix. There’s no future in this for Tottenham at all.”
Of course, Mourinho’s tenure has started well. Spurs beat West Ham 3-2 at the London Stadium. Tottenham were in control for much of the game, and a number of players appear to be ready to respond positively to his way of working.
Obviously, every club would love to have a manager who enjoys a long, trophy-laden tenure before stepping aside at the perfect time. Pochettino, for so long, looked set to be that man for Tottenham.
But it appears that many Spurs fans are now ready to move away from that idea to see Mourinho do what he does best.