Tottenham Hotspur and Mauricio Pochettino: A hunger for success
Tottenham Hotspur are a club on the rise and in Mauricio Pochettino, it has the right man as the captain.
As the pitch was finally dug up and the final goodbyes were said, Tottenham Hotspur turned its back on White Hart Lane - a stadium, a home that nurtured a rich football club, steeped in tradition. With the new stadium taking shape on the same soil, Spurs have the unfavourable and quite frankly daunting task of playing a season on one of England's most hallowed grounds - Wembley Stadium. A stadium where success has often eluded the North London club, but a place where embracing is the only realistic option.
Daniel Levy took over as chairman of Tottenham in 2001. Under his stewardship, in the new century, Spurs have seen the ebb and flow of Champions League football and more recently a challenge for the title, but the custodian of Tottenham over the last decade and a half has drawn out an elaborate blue print to impinge much of the success of their neighbours in the capital.
From his dream of a new stadium to rubbing shoulders at the top of the Premier League, Levy has laid the foundation for a greater Tottenham, both on the pitch and as a neighbourhood. His vision has been supplemented by his dogged approach in the transfer market; an approach which conversely has also affected the wage structure in the club's hierarchy.
Levy's dream is mirrored in the eyes of his manager Mauricio Pochettino. Whilst both strive to compete on the biggest stage with limited resources, none can take away the sheer drive that spurs the Lillywhites. An air of optimism has been sweeping through the ranks at Tottenham and it is thanks to an Argentinian from Murphy, Santa Fe.
Pochettino grew up in the small town of Murphy and at age 14, was spotted by mentor Marcelo Bielsa who gave him the opportunity to play professional football.
Had it not been for Bielsa driving up to Pochettino's home and lifting a young man's duvet off, exclaiming, 'You have a footballer's legs', this article would probably have not come to fruition.
A career spanning 18 years saw Pochettino ply his trade in the French capital and also Espanyol, a club he would later manage. As he transitioned from player to manager, he took to his compatriot Bielsa in terms of a relentless work ethic and an energy fused style of play.
After a stint in Spain, Pochettino took over an exciting Southampton side. Catching much attention for his side's good work, the Argentine took the call that led him to North London where White Hart Lane awaited.
Much was being made of Spurs' 'foreign coach fascination' when Pochettino was appointed. A flaccid spell with Andre Villas Boas at the helm had seen Spurs again in the shadows of their counterparts at the Emirates. But a change in guard set the wheels in motion.
An academy-centric focus off the field coupled with an effervescent team on it has been one of the many changes that Pochettino has rung in at Spurs. A club that squandered proceeds from the sale of Gareth Bale, erstwhile most expensive player and Luka Modric on mediocre players has been revitalised by the former PSG captain who has laid his faith in the youth system.
It is no coincidence that England finds much of its starting eleven from Spurs - Harry Kane, Dele Ali, Eric Dier and Danny Rose to name a few
Not only has Pochettino instilled his beliefs in the youngsters but also has produced results along the way. A fifth placed finish in his first season has been outdone by third and second place finishes in the seasons that followed.
As Spurs have emerged out of the shadows of their North London rivals, they have laid siege on the throne at the top of the table, albeit fallen short on a couple of occasions.
The relentless pursuit
On Pochettino's shoulders rest the burden of the first British club to have won a European trophy. Tottenham have made clear their ambition and in Pochettino, the club has a manager whose pursuit of excellence has driven his team thus far.
His double sessions a day have given shape to a footballing side that models itself on Bielsa's principles of a high-pressure game with an attacking bent of mind. Tottenham is an outfit that is forged in Pochettino's mettle and is flourishing in their renewed purpose.
Much like his club, Pochettino has much to prove. While he has cemented his side's claim in the upper gantries of English football, his pursuit of a first trophy still irks the sceptics. A side that has so often captivated and surprised in equal measure, over the last few seasons, is still in search of silverware that has eluded it.
Pochettino's men have improved year-on-year but so have their counterparts. As the news season throws its fair share of troubles, it remains to be seen whether Spurs can pick up the spoils.
To dare is to do
Bill Nicholson, Spurs' most successful ever manager, left a legacy that still awaits to be eclipsed. In Spurs, Pochettino has the opportunity to formulate his own legacy that may well stem from his un deterring self-belief. But Spurs' days of inching closer to the eventual winner need to be outnumbered with them finishing the races with a clear sight in front.
A side that is peppered with youth and experience needs to elevate itself if it is to tell its own tales. It may be a matter of time that the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Ali continue to write the scripts for Spurs as merely taking part in a race never made the history books.
Pochettino has dared to dream and has cast the cornerstones for a solid footballing side. But his side's tenacity needs to be complemented with a habit of winning. For his legacy will entail not the change that he sought and brought upon but the revolution he leads.
As the memories of yesteryears fade, can the Spurs go marching in?