Mauricio Pochettino's fall from grace signifies the unforgiving nature of modern football
By now we all know the story. Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine football manager who led Tottenham Hotspur's steady resurgence as a footballing powerhouse in a glorious, albeit trophy-less reign, has been given the sack by the London club after a miserable start to the season.
Such are the vagaries of modern football that the ink was yet to dry on Poch's proverbial letter of termination before his successor's name was announced. Indeed, reports suggest so sudden was his departure that the former Southampton coach had to leave a note to say goodbye to his players. How times change.
It seems eons ago but was in fact just last season that Pochettino led the Lillywhites to their greatest achievement yet - a place in the Champions League final after a magnificent comeback against an invincible-looking Ajax side. He also took them to fourth spot in the domestic league, just a point behind third-placed Chelsea, in what was another successful if barren season.
Poch had led the club to title challenges, second-place finishes, League Cup and UCL finals as well as their highest points tally in the Premier League. However, his greatest legacy was to bring to the fore such veritable superstars of the game as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as well as establish players like Eric Dier and Dele Alli as integral parts of the England team.
The manager also dramatically changed the way Spurs played, with Kane acting as the head of a high-pressing arrow. The Londoners hunted in packs in a signature high-press, with favorable results.
Things fall apart
The one lesson that we can take away from Pochettino's mid-season departure is that modern football, especially at the top echelons, is highly mutable with no regard for continuity. It is a results business and how!
With talks of a mutiny because of Poch's relentless training modules, players refusing to commit their future to the club, and the fact that the team was languishing in the bottom half of the table after grossly under-performing to start the season, the team's chairman Daniel Levy decided to pull the gun on the former darling in ruthless fashion.
Just like that. Boom! Five and a half years of a philosophy and a way of approach was sacrificed as Jose Mourinho, known for a diametrically different and more conservative (if pragmatic) brand of football, has been brought in to salvage the season.
The episode is another reminder of how unforgiving modern football is. Gone are the days when Sir Alex Ferguson could be persisted with for two seasons despite mediocre results, and given a chance to change the face of the club forever. One half-season of failure, and Pochettino has to bid adieu to his project.
It's bitter, but it's the reality of high-stakes football now where results ensure profile and revenue, and club management has zero patience.Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:06 IST