Mauricio Pochettino quizzed over 'what the f**k' selection vs Real Madrid - but he had the last laugh
Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that some people close to the Tottenham Hotspur camp had told him of their doubts about his team selection for the match away to Real Madrid on Tuesday - saying “what the f**k*? - only to tell him he was a “genius” once the side had pulled off a 1-1 draw against the European champions.
The Spurs boss put out an unexpected line-up in the Bernabeu on Tuesday, lining out with two strikers in Harry Kane and Fernando Llorente, and joked that the performance was a message not to doubt him.
“It was amazing because some people very close to us said, ‘Can we be honest with you?’” Pochettino explained in his press conference ahead of the match with Liverpool on Sunday.
“I said, ‘Yes’. They said, ‘When we saw the starting XI… what the f***? What happened? What is going on in his mind?’
“And then after 10 minutes at the end of the game, they say, ‘Oh, you are a genius’. I say, ‘OK, thank you’.
“It’s too difficult to explain what we want in every single game to try to find. It’s not easy to explain to you or to relate to the fans. It’s about trust. It’s about the feel that the manager and the coaching staff when deciding the starting XI or the way to play is always to try to win.
“Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But I feel the same. After the game if I win or lose, in my decision, I cannot regret it. We try to provide the team or to create the best way to play because we believe we can win in the way we decide to play.
“That process, always, is with all respect and trying to assess every single player and analyse the opponent and our performance and our form. Then try to win. I accept it. That is part of football.
“Everyone waits to see the shape or the system or the starting XI, and everyone disagrees. It is difficult to be in complete agreement with the manager.
“After, it’s a massive surprise, but not too many people recognise, ‘Oh, I was wrong and the manager was right’. Because always that happens. For me, I understand very well.”
Pochettino is in fact now so comfortable with such decisions that he has opted to collaborate in a book, entitled ‘Brave New World’. It covers a Tottenham season and he hopes it will allow people to understand the circumstances for managers and why certain decisions were taken for a particular game that could not be explained at the time.
“The idea was to try help people understand what happened during one season in your life when you are manager, when you are under stress,” Pochettino explained.
“The book is important, you must read the first page of my book, you will understand. Don’t take some sentences, you must take in the days, the months, the circumstances we were writing the book in. If you want to put outside the things you can find things to talk about, it’s important how was our mind was, how our mood was, the things that happened, the stress.
“It's a book that that can be a service for a lot of people, and also professionals of what happens in the life of a club, or managerial staff, or people that have a responsibility so big… As well, it can help for people to respect a little bit more our job, that at times is spoken about very simplistically, of the decisions, the things that happen, the circumstances of why we took certain decisions that at times you can't explain. It's very complex, no.”