Pochettino – the wrong move

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-NEWCASTLEOn the 28th May 2014, Tottenham appointed the ninth manager of the Daniel Levy era. Mauricio Pochettino. A young manager who plays an exciting brand of attacking football and has an excellent record of bringing through youth, he seems the perfect match for Tottenham. The one attribute he lacks is experience in European football, and indeed experience managing a big club, yet there were few possible candidates for Spurs who would’ve ticked that box. Frank De Boer was a long shot at best for a club outside of the Champions league.

However, for Pochettino, the deal may not prove to be as lucrative. Leaving behind him the best youth academy in the country and a possible £50m transfer kitty from the sales of Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, he has transferred to a club with the itchiest trigger finger in the Premier League and the impossible balance of trying to break into the top four whilst also having to serious reevaluate their financial situation. Pochettino might have been better off waiting.

The Saints have had a remarkable season, racking up their joint highest ever Premier league finish and a record points total whilst having captured the hearts of the English media with their young British core, bringing through the likes of Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Callum Chambers, Nathaniel Clyne, James Ward-Prose and Jay Rodriguez – to name but a few. They look set to cash in a rather farcical sum of £27-30 million for Luke Shaw whilst Lallana could also be sold for £20 million plus, thus giving Pochettino upwards of £50 million to spend – hypothecated from these sales alone.

Over at Spurs, with the ‘wasted summer’ still a bitter, bitter reality and £400 million of stadium costs about to be absorbed, the picture is very different. Soldado, Lamela, Chadli, Capoue, Chiriches and Paulinho are all yet to live up to their billing yet (with the exception of Chadli and Capoue) all are earning in excess of £50,000 a week. Put simply, the Bale money has gone, and then some – with Spurs’ expenditure on wages for these players nullifying the argument that Spurs in essence ‘broke even’ in the summer whilst adding eight players. The Guardian club-by-club report for the last financial year shows the picture for the two clubs:

Southampton: Gross profits: -£7m, Net Debt £19m, Turnover £72m

Tottenham: Gross profits: £4m, Net Debt: £55m, Turnover £147m

Clearly therefore, there is still a gulf in finances and it would be mad to try to suggest that in the long run Pochettino would have more to spend at Southampton than at Spurs. With revenues of over double Southampton’s there is little doubt that Spurs are the ‘bigger club’. However, in the short-term Spurs are set to take on £400 million of stadium debt and that cannot just be ignored. Their North London rivals took on a similar level of debt and have been paying for it for the last nine years, having to sacrifice all short run success in return for the financial rewards of Champions league qualification. Tottenham cannot even do that! There is a huge gulf in class between Tottenham and the current top four at the moment and with Manchester United set to rise back to prominence under Van Gaal Tottenham would do well to finish 6th next season.

London-TOTS-2014It is telling that despite a £120 million summer, they still didn’t register a single player in WhoScored.com’s London team of the season. This after Levy has publicly stated that ‘under his guidance’ Tottenham would become the biggest club in London. They are living in a dream world if they think they can have another £120 million summer, but this time make it count.

Whilst £120 million well spent might be what is needed, Tottenham simply cannot afford it and as a result under any manager will not be returning to the Champions league any time soon. Will Levy realise this reality and give Pochettino the time to build through austerity and accept that top four might have to be a more long-term goal? History suggests not. The stadium redevelopment plans are quite magnificent, it is undeniable and were they to manufacture the move successfully, staying in line with FFP whilst maintaining their status as a top Premier League club they would be in a marvellous position to go on and become a major force on the world stage. But that’s a lot of ifs and buts.

One of the main reasons for Pochettino leaving Southampton was probably evidence of a lack of ambition, something that no one could deny Spurs have an abundance of. Nicola Cortese left the club in January of this year amidst reports Katharina Liebherr had plans to sell the club and Pochettino had previously warned that if Cortese left, he would be following him out the door. Furthermore, whilst gaining £50 million from the sales of Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana might be viewed as a positive by some (the price tag flouted for Shaw is enough to make even the most stubborn of owners take the money and run). But only Mauricio himself could tell us what is happening behind the scenes, maybe Liebherr has no intention of reinvesting the money into the squad, maybe there are still plans to sell, they’ve just made a point of doing it quietly. Who knows?

However, the noises from within seem to suggest that Liebherr is happy and committed for the time being and you would expect that – with no substantial debts to be paid off immediately – at least some of the money would be reinvested into the squad. Furthermore, the Saints’ biggest financial differential with Tottenham is their commercial revenues (excl. TV rights) standing at £7m compared to Spurs’ £57m.

With the current Southampton frenzy in the media and a bit of good marketing there is huge scope for this to be doubled, tripled and more in the next three years, then the gap between Southampton and the big clubs might really start to close, and once you’re in that bracket and gaining a global presence the possibilities are endless and the revenues exponential. This could’ve been the reality for Pochettino at Southampton. Liebherr does not strike me as a Mike Ashley-esque figure, who actively avoids Europa League football at risk of having to actually put some money into the club, and even if she did have plans to sell – who’s to say that a new owner wouldn’t recognise Southampton’s potential and take them onto that new level, with Pochettino at the helm.

If you’re a young player, looking for a club and you see the likes of Chambers, Shaw, Clyne, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse and Schneiderlin all being given a chance to impress at a young age, as well as the lucrative paths that Walcott, Chamberlain and Gareth Bale have gone on to take, then St Mary’s very quickly becomes your first choice of destination, and that’s the privilege that Southampton have at the moment, a huge share of the market for young talent which is only expanding and the possibility from player sales and an increased marketing presence to really push on and become a big club.

Pochettino may well find himself the perfect home at Spurs. Indeed, it is possible that Levy sees him as the perfect man to oversee a tightening of the purse strings due to his success on very limited funds at Southampton in the short time he’s been manager there. However, history suggests otherwise. Levy sacked Martin Jol over a dodgy lasagne and Redknapp lost his job despite finishing fourth due to the huge misfortune dealt to them by Didier Drogba. AVB had his summer signings dictated to him and then was sacked for not getting them to perform whilst Sherwood bowed out with the greatest Premier League win rate of any Tottenham manager ever.

Pochettino will be expected to make up a gap on the other top five teams in the league (I exclude Everton from this as it is touch and go as to how they will perform next season without Lukaku, Delofeu, Barry and the burden of the Europa League) despite almost certainly being powerless to stop his team being outspent by them all. It is a dangerous fantasy to expect Tottenham to continue spending as they have done in the past with the new stadium debt and financial fair play to contend with.

If Levy gives Pochettino time and space to operate and steer Tottenham out of the debt and into a new era than he may yet become a legend, but the likelihood of that is very low indeed. Had he stayed at Southampton it is not impossible that they may have overtaken Tottenham in two or three years time, as Spurs struggle with the debt. In that occurrence, the world would be his oyster with Wenger surely into his last contract at Arsenal now and unstable managership and Barcelona and both Milan clubs. Instead, he has taken a huge gamble on a club with a reputation for a lack of patience who will soon be experiencing austerity.

It may well come off for him, but there is also a high chance it won’t and he will become yet another casualty of the Levy regime.

The Author

Nathaniel Shaughnessy

Football enthusiast and Arsenal fan, also regularly visit The Valley.

45 thoughts on “Pochettino – the wrong move

  1. “Had he stayed at Tottenham it is not entirely impossible that Southampton may have overtaken them in two or three years time” – could you find a native English speaker to re-write this sentence,please.

  2. Trash sensationalist reporting. You could have said this about any manager who joined in terms of there being a risk due to Levy’s propensity to fire managers. Southampton did have the best academy due to the academy director, who has now been at Fulham for some time…the current crop being the fruit of his labour.

    Yes there are some costs to absorb, so surely the solution is to invest before this period and then work with what you have bought and the youth coming through…wait a second that’s exactly what we have done. You’re correct that most of the signings did not settle, this season they will only improve, and in poch we have a man famed for tapping into players potential. He will relish the chance to work with these underachieving players.

    I just don’t see the point in your brand of bob-a-job hobby reporting to get some kind of gratification for yourself, perpetuating a negative outcome when a new manager has just been appointed.

    1. You’ve missed the point (as has the meta description). It is pochettino who has made the wrong move. Not tottenham

  3. Written by an Arsenal fan with the express sentiment of winding up the Spurs faithful. Just take a look at his twitter feed and see why this article needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The Gooners are obssessed with us.

  4. Danny Norman’s comment is quite correct.

    You mention that the salary of the incoming players negates the ‘breaking even’ argument, yet fail to mention how we released and sold several players also on high wages.

  5. A lot of hypothesising in this article of which most is just the author’s opinion. Poor journalism.

  6. And you missed my point, you could have subbed the manager name with any manager who took over…and Pochettino will love managing these players, having jumped rom a ship who’s sailors are about to jump also. Gooner propaganda, a symptom of a nomadic club who’s identity only exists in hating spurs.

    1. Yes. You could have! That is the point. That’s why pochettino shouldn’t have gone.

  7. If he can achieve great things with a team of youngsters turning them into internationals, can you imagine what he can do with a team of internationals? Then we’ll see just how big this gulf is between Spurs and the top 4 you mentioned. Now that’s my opinion!

    1. Now that’s a fair, reasoned argument!
      I disagree on the grounds that all of the top 5 will significantly strengthen. Even if Liverpool drop out due to leaky defence, Europe et al there’s still arsenal city Chelsea and LVG’s united to overcome. Just don’t see it happening


  9. Wrong move for both parties,Spurs should have kept Sherwood for at least his contract, despite the moronic hate campaign by the Cretinous Spurs lynch mob,with players of his choice,not avb’s,Poncho will have his CV severely dented if he fails.

  10. Yes you said it, significantly strengthen with players from where? From mostly abroad I bet which, as Spurs found out last season, will require time to settle in. The one’s at Spurs have already had a season in the premier league. I don’t agree with your opinion on Utd. They need to make significant changes in key areas to challenge again. They’ll take time to settle in also. Don’t worry Spurs with Pochettino in charge will be a great combination and they’ll be able to hold their own amongst the top 4. In my opinion, he’s made a great move!

    1. I think the difference is, arsenal city Chelsea will all be making 2/3 signings to strengthen, many of whom will have already worked with some players at intl. level. Referring to arsenals german contingent especially. Spurs brought in 8 complete strangers all at once, of course they didn’t gel!
      Only time will tell whether it works out or not but I can’t see spurs getting back into the top four and IMO levy needs to accept that and give pochettino time, something that he almost certainly won’t be willing to do

  11. You’re a good writer but I must take everything you say with a big pinch of salt because of who you support!

    1. Thank you. These are solely my opinions. This isn’t the BBC, I don’t have to carefully consider every word for the sake of ‘balance’, I’m sure there are many that disagree, you might be one.

  12. That might be the case. I don’t think levy will get rid of Pochettino after one season if he doesn’t make champions league. Levy’s given a 5 year contract to Pochettino. Something he hasn’t done before for any manager during his time. It may be different this time. Only time will tell.

  13. You mean you hope Spurs fail to make the top four. In fact Liverpool overperformed this season and it is not possible they can keep this going. They were lucky not to have any significant injuries to their paper thin squad, unlike Spurs who had many key players out, and with an ageing Gerrard, Henderson likely to return to mediocrity and a distinctly average defence means this was a flash in the pan. This season will be a race between United and Spurs for that 4th place.

    1. I agree in the sense that Liverpool have overperformed, but they’ve also got an extra £50 million to flash as a virtue of CL football. Spend it widely and they’ll be back there for sure. Changes if Suarez leaves of course, they will find him even more irreplaceable than Bale

  14. “Levy sacked Martin Jol over a dodgy lasagne and Redknapp lost his job despite finishing fourth due to the huge misfortune dealt to them by Didier Drogba. AVB had his summer signings dictated to him and then was sacked for not getting them to perform whilst Sherwood bowed out with the greatest Premier League win rate of any Tottenham manager ever.”

    so as a “journalist” you’ve done your research haven’t you. Martin Jol lasted into the next season after the lasagne gate. Poor form caused him to get the sack
    Redknapp spent 6 months promoting himself for the england job whilst letting 13 points slip
    AVB walked !!! he didn’t get sacked. And if you think he wasn’t consulted on any of the signing that’s very very naive
    Sherwood has the worst loss percentage out of every manager !! if you take into account all his games in charge he still doesn’t beat AVB.

    But dont let facts get in the way of a good story.

    1. So you think Levy was justified in all of his actions over the last 13 years? Redknapp dragged them from the bottom of the league to two fourth placed finishes! Jol also took them to fifth place (overperforming) then was replaced by Juande Ramos! And we all know how that turned out

  15. As you stated, Spurs spent twice that amount last season, but it takes time to bed in those new players. Liverpool will be nowhere near as successful as teams will also learn how to stop them after watching Chelsea demonstrate how to block and frustrate them.

    1. True, and that’s why they’ll be no where near the league title and won’t get anywhere in the CL. But they still are the most exciting side in the league and with a bit of defensive solidity will be pushing for 4th mininum

  16. Sell dawson,d rose,chiriches,paulinho,lamela,soldado,townsend,kaboul and try to get 130m or 120m for funds and other funds of the club
    Then buy- destro, loic remy, mehati, beharmi, lallana, shaw,
    jay rodriguez, victor waynamma, morato oq etto resign- holtby and caulker
    then search super youth youngsters from our youth academy such as obika and others and other ideas of manager
    then spurs can be next season epl champions and get titles
    spurs can do it if confident… SPURS GO SPURS THEN WIN TITLE SPURS

  17. Did i mention anything about levy being right or wrong ?
    Pretty sure my comment was about your shabby article

    But once again here is the facts (which you really should check before writing or opening your mouth)

    Redknapp dragged them from the bottom of the league ? Yeah with the help of 70mil in Jan he dragged
    them to 9th that year. Then another 40m in the summer with no EURO football to contend with, You also seem to forget liverpool was on meltdown at that time too so that was another team out of the top 4 equation. His 2nd 4th place had a early exit from the Euro and he let slip 13 points which i mentioned but you seem to have forgotten that already.
    Jol’s results suffered badly the next year, he had taken the team as far as he could. He hasn’t exactly set the world alight since, so cant see why your using him to back your argument. (its backs an arguement for levy more that anything)
    My point stands you didn’t do your homework and just spouted what every other person who can’t think for themselves does

    1. If you think Harry deserved to go you find yourself in a very, very small minority. True he let TEN points slip (arsenal had a game in hand when it was 13) but over the course of the season he still racked up the fourth highest points total. An early euro exit means very little, the damage is done by the group stage with injuries and fatigue entrenched by the turn of the year. Jols results suffered badly because he had massively overperformed the year before. Pretty much the same fate that befell the likes of RDM and Steve Clarke. Happens too often that you finish far too high for the clubs merit and then are punished for it the next season. Point stands that Spurs have had no managerial stability and Levy has been too quick to fire after one or even half a dodgy season, often judging them against their own previous over achievements. And I don’t see why pochettino would want to become the next name on that list.

  18. You’re assuming already that Pochettino is doomed to fail before a ball has even been kicked. Ok, you can go by what’s happened in the past and say he’s gonna get the boot, but let’s see what happens after 10 games ey? You know what they say about assumptions being? Surely, Levy’s got to get one right!

  19. And you can knock Levy as much as you want about sacking managers every 1-2 years to get success, but that’s part and parcel of any managerial job. If you’re not performing in your company, your sacked, end of story. You undermine your position in a company by looking for another job, your sacked, end of story. Let’s face it. If Arsenal fans had it their way, Wenger would have been gone a long time ago, judging from comments I’ve heard from fans over the years!

    1. There are a lot of arsenal fans who want wenger in, probably still the majority. Personally I’m on the fence but I’m grateful for the stability and certainly wouldn’t want to be operating a regime where half a bad season = sacked. Most wenger out people base it on what they see as being 8 seasons of failure. Not one.

  20. “If you think Harry deserved to go you find yourself in a very, very small minority.”

    Based on what fact ???????
    a source stating that would be nice. If you have 1 that is.

    1. Based on talking to people. You’re not seriously saying that most spurs fans wanted Harry gone?

  21. well being a spurs fan and consistently chatting to spurs fans and attending spurs games i can tell you you are 100% talking out your ass (which i might add seems to come naturally to you). The general consensus was he had to go for being a whore. the “people” you talk to don’t count for the majority of us.

    Still waiting on that source

    1. Clearly an odd bunch of delusional fans then if you expected anything other than him to (attempt to) jump ship as soon as the England job became available.

  22. There’s no disputing that fact. It’s the manner in which he went about his business that pissed everyone off.

  23. And who said we didn’t expect him to jump if he was offered the job ??
    Who is delusional again ?

  24. The Wenger out mob started at least four seasons ago and there have been fights in the stands between for and against Wengerits. Your article is full of ifs and buts. Jol had Berbatov and Keane up front both in good form they didn’t overachieve, Rednapp had Modric, Bale and van der Vart all these players were coveted by the biggest clubs in the world but neither Jol, who I am told spoke to another club without permission and Rednapp who became so self seeking over the England job it affected the team and made their positions untenable. The others were unable to move the team on. A opinion is not fact, you should make it clear that your article is exactly that, or perhaps as I believe more a case of wishfull thinking.

    1. Apologies for the confusion, my article is of course opinion. I think levy has been far too trigger happy and won’t give pochettino the time he needs, and I don’t think even the best manager in the world could steer tottenham back into the top four once they take on this debt – especially with everyone improving around them. I could never prove any of that, it is just what I think will happen.
      R.e. The Wenger outs, I’m sure there were some after two seasons and the crowd grew from there, but the point is we have shown faith and stuck by him and haven’t sacked him after half a season of slight disappointment, as a result (and this is once again an opinion), I believe we have and will reap the rewards in years to come

  25. Well written article but will say rather biased as pointed by many above maybe coming from an Arsenal fan. Spurs had an awful season (many injuries, new players from abroad & managerial crisis) and still managed to come sixth and don’t see why they will not be better under a new manager known to be good at developing and bringing the best out of young players.

    I don’t see MP bringing in more than 3 players and moving same out. Spurs have a big and talented squad that needs to gel and with MP’s attacking and refreshing football philosophy, i feel Spurs have a chance to crack the top 4 without spending much unlike what you claim,

    Spurs spent relatively nothing last season as they spent money from Bale sale and other players like Huddlestone, Parker, Defoe, Caulker and Dempsey to buy the new players. So financially, Spurs didn’t do badly as you picture. All players bought apart from Soldado are young and talented with good resale value.

    The stadium project is the best way forward and with a world class training centre and MP in charge, Spurs with the young crop of players can compete in the next 3 years at the top level with the squad they have now. Spurs have survived without CL football and not gone bust. The stadium and developing youth like Bale is the answer which Arsenal were unable to achieve despite claims of having youthful players who turned out to be valueless adults!

    All MP needs is a solid Left full back to replace Danny Rose where most of the goals leaked last season and a central defender. With the right mentality, they will make top 4 and ply exciting football. I don’t think Levy would put being top 4 a priority but the development of young players and playing the attacking and exciting football Spurs are known for

  26. It probably is ‘trash, sensationalist journalism’ but I wouldn’t know as I got as far as “Frank De Boer was a long shot at best for a club outside of the Champions league” and just gave up. No, Frank de Boer wasn’t a ‘long shot’, he was interviewed for the job (why would he even bother turning up for interview if there was such little chance of him joining?) and made it very clear from way before Sherwood was dismissed that he was very, very eager for the job. Indeed, he was so forward in making it very, very clear that he wanted the job that there is a strong suggestion that the Spurs chairman/board were less than happy about it, and it may have been a factor in him not being offered the job. Seems like me that this is just twisted logic along the lines he ‘must’ have wanted a club in the CL (without substantiation, of course), and therefore ‘must’ have been a long shot for Spurs to try to hire :)

    Indeed, looking at the author’s team of the season and his eagerness to get in that Spurs are somehow a defective twisted claw of the creature from the black lagoon of a club for not having CL football, I strongly suspect he is a Gooner :)

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