Never go back?
I think the reason they say ‘never go back’ – to an ex, or to the coffee shop that got your order wrong that time is that you’ll likely just revisit the mistakes of your past, replay them and cause pain and hurt to everyone all over again. I ASKED FOR SOY MILK*, IS IT REALLY THAT DIFFICULT?
So, the point is, for it to work this time when it didn’t before, something has to change. And I don’t think that this means that one side concedes that they were wrong and the other continues as before (although it would be nice to at least to get an apology for milk-gate**, ‘the customer is always right’ after all); there needs to be some sort of contrition from both sides and a commitment to changing behaviours in the future.
The problem we have here is that whilst Daniel Levy is one of the smartest football chairmen around, he’s also one of the most stubborn. And, if I’m honest, I don’t think Mauricio Pochettino is too different in that regard.
For each of them, their stubbornness can be a virtue, for sure. For Levy, it has led to him getting some incredible deals done over the years, and his renown for being difficult to deal with is, I’m sure, a badge of honour to him. But, equally, having multiple chairmen wearing t-shirts that say ‘I went to sign a player from Tottenham Hotspur and all I got was this lousy shirt’ is not so great when you’re releasing Danny Rose, a once £50m-rated player, at the end of his contract having played precisely zero minutes the whole of the year. There does, more often than not, need to be compromise.
And, as for Pochettino, well I watched him play a Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko midfield more than 30 times in his last season and a half. Whilst it *appears* to have been a fever dream, I definitely saw this happen with my own eyes, so don’t even try to convince me that it didn’t. It did, and it was horrible every single time and I hated it and then he ruined Dele by trying to get him to drop in and help fix it and… bad bad bad bad bad bad bad. And stubborn, very stubborn.
Both will need to have reflected on the way things ended and what they might have done differently to stop things going that way. They will then need to be self-aware enough to change their behaviours to stop history repeating. I would say, though, that I see Pochettino coming in and starting pretty much from scratch again rather than picking up where he left off, and I think that’s a good thing. Sure, he’ll have a lot of preset connections with people around the club and the way that it operates. He’ll also have a lot of coaching to undo, a lot of latent fitness to build and a new system to implement. And, whether it feels like it or not, the squad has actually moved on quite a bit since he was last in post. Not just in terms of new signings, but in terms of players who are now more established/integrated as well as those who have stepped up from the Academy. And we are hopeful that there will be several leaving this summer…
The reporting this morning suggests that Pochettino wants ‘full control over key decisions’. I cannot see a way that this could happen under Levy, the man who literally follows his employees into the canteen to poke his nose into their day-to-day work. But, besides that, I’m not entirely sure I’d want it to. I think, as Head Coach, Pochettino should have complete control of his remit. Anything on-pitch (including the training ground) is his domain. I also think Levy needs to finally give in and re-appoint a Director of Football/Sporting Director to conduct the non-coaching football business, including transfers and including working with the Academy Manager, Dean Rastrick. Hopefully Ryan Mason will want to continue as Head of Player Development, Under-17 to Under-23 to enable the management of players post-academy; this was a major critique of mine of Pochettino the first time around.
I am very hopeful that we will re-appoint Mauricio Pochettino. I see him as, objectively, the best coach we could appoint for what needs to be achieved and for delivering on the values that Daniel Levy outlined in his latest Chairman’s Message. But I hope that if this comes to pass, but parties have learnt to compromise. If that happens, I am convinced that it’s a winning formula. The good news is that, in appointing him, Levy would be making a big step in the right direction.
And to any baristas reading, I apologise. I appreciate you and I appreciate your memory skills. Please don’t spit in my drink.
*Soy boys unite.
**This is entirely fabricated, I am disgusting and drink cows milk.
I am the host of The Extra Inch; a Spurs podcast that delves into the analytical side of Tottenham games. Check us out! If you already follow the podcast, consider becoming an xSub for additional content.