Friday 18 January 2019

Comment: Why Mauricio Pochettino is the WRONG man to take over at Real Madrid

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

For so many reasons, Mauricio Pochettino is the wrong candidate to fill the vacant role of head coach at Real Madrid.

While the Tottenham manager boasts an immaculate reputation in the game and has long been viewed as a Real Madrid boss in waiting by the club's president Florentino Perez, so many aspects of this potential marriage suggest it would be a prelude for a quickie divorce.

The departure Zinedine Zidane from the Real Madrid hot-seat on Thursday sent shock waves through football that will rippled through the game for weeks and months to come, with Tottenham likely to be affected by the resignation of the coach who has led the Spanish giants to a hat-trick of Champions League wins over the last three years.

Perez has made little secret of his desire to recruit Pochettino at some point in the near future, so the stories suggesting the Argentine tactician as favourite for the post were entirely predictable, even though Pochettino signed a new long-term contract with Spurs just last week.

When Real Madrid president Perez sets his sights on a new signing, he tends to get his man, yet Pochettino and Real Madrid is a recipe that may not serve up a winning formula for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Pochettino's success has been built around a work ethic and mentality not appearing to fit into the ethos of Real Madrid. This is a club that demands instant success and dispenses of any player or manager who will not provide that in double quick time.

Pochettino's great strength during his time in charge or Southampton and then at Tottenham has been his ability to build bonds with his players, with the loyalty he needs to flourish as a coach needing time to flourish among players willing to embrace his philosophy.

An intense training regime is a key part of the Pochettino set-up hat included his loyal coaching team of Miguel D'Agostino, Jesus Perez and Toni Jiminez, with players they consider to be unable or unwilling to follow the demands placed upon them ushered out of the club in double quick time.

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Pochettino also embraces the youth team set-up at clubs he has been a part of, with the Spurs boss regularly attending the club's junior matches to keep abreast of the rising stars who may be pushing for first team chances.

Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Harry Kane and Dele Alli are examples of home grown players who flourished under Pochettino's guidance, but that will not be part of his remit if he takes the bait set to be offered by Real Madrid. At the Bernabeu, he would need to win the Spanish title or the Champions League in his first season or history suggests Perez would replaced him.

Finally, Pochettino was assured by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy that he will have a key say in all future transfers when he signed his new contract, but that would not be the case if he was in the Real Madrid hot-seat as president Perez and his sidekicks sign the players they want and challenge their coach to produce winning teams season after season.

Despite all these glaring issues, Pochettino's refusal to dismiss his links with Real Madrid suggest he is open to the prospect of moving to the Spanish capital, as he offered up these comments at a press conference in Barcelona on Friday. 

"I signed a new contract 10 days ago - what is going to happen tomorrow, I don't know, but I will always tell you ‘football is football,' football will put you in your place always," said Pochettino.

"The most important thing is to explain day by day that life is very short and we need to spend the day thinking and enjoying life.

"We can't be thinking too much and worrying about what is happening tomorrow. I am so happy in Tottenham and I'm so proud that Tottenham showed the commitment and trust in the way that Daniel Levy (Spurs chairman) showed me, and of course, we have a lot of dreams, we have a lot of objectives."

He was then asked if he could resist an offer from Real Madrid and offered this response: "For you, it's impossible? You think yeah - but you are not me."

Pochettino could have used his press appearance to rule himself out of the running for the Real Madrid job, but he opted to add spice to a story that will gather momentum in the coming days.

The time for Pochettino to take over at one of the world's biggest clubs will come and if he picks the right moment and the right destination, he has the potential to become one of the modern-day greats, yet he would be making a huge mistake if he gives up the power he has earned at Tottenham and swaps it to play Russian roulette with his career at Real Madrid.

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