Tuesday 22 May 2018

Guillem Balagué - Why Mauricio Pochettino has qualities Jose Mourinho could learn from

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Unique insight into Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino in a new book by Guilleme Balagué. Photo: Reuters
Unique insight into Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino in a new book by Guilleme Balagué. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

The secret behind the success of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is the loyalty he inspires from those around him, according to Sky Sports Spanish football expert Guillem Balagué.

Pochettino is being linked with moves to take over at some of the biggest clubs in world football after transforming Tottenham into serious contenders for the Premier League title over the last three years and in the opinion of the author of a new book looking at his rise to the top of the game, one quality shines through.

Balagué has been given extensive behind-the-scenes access to Pochettino and his staff over the last 12 months as he compiled his book ‘Brave New World - Inside Pochettino’s Spurs’ and he paints a picture of a man who embraces those in his presence with a little more care than most top level managers.

“His charm and the empathy he has with people are among his greatest qualities,” Balagué told Independent.ie. “He shows interest in people, not just for football reasons and at Southampton and now with Tottenham. As every one who works with him confirms, he has a closeness with you takes some getting used to in an English culture.

Guillem Balagué was given exclusive access to Pochettino and his family for his new book 'Brave New World'
Guillem Balagué was given exclusive access to Pochettino and his family for his new book 'Brave New World'

“In Spain, we are more used to this kind of behaviour, but in England they are used to managers keeping their distance from players and the staff. Pochettino is not like that at all.

“This is not just his footballers we are talking about here. This desire to be personal extends to the press officers, the people working at the club.

“This is a very natural personality for him. The fact that he touches people, he hugs people and kisses people on the cheeks, this is the person he is and he has managed to bring that personality in as a manager.

“Here is a manager who inspires a loyalty from those who work with him and once you develop this relationship with him, you want it to remain and I also feel a player wants to give him something back for the faith he has shown in him.

“Pochettino develops a persona of being a father figure to the players and if he disappears after a bad result, they miss his presence around them.”

Balagué confirms Pochettino’s eagerness to embrace his players continues long after they leave his squad, with a high profile list of Southampton players still in regular contact with their old boss.

“You can see the loyalty he still commands from players who don’t work with him any more,” continues Balagué. “His old Southampton player Jay Rodriguez loves the man and I was getting texts on a regular basis from Adam Lallana asking when the book will be out because he was very keen to read it. Now he has read it and he messaged Pochettino about how he enjoyed it.

“Also, Luke Shaw gave me some very kind words about Pochettino after working with his at Southampton and he was very happy talk about a manager he admires so much.”

Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho
Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho

Balagué went on to suggest Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho could learn from the personal touch shown by Pochettino, as he suggests the former Real Madrid manager has something of a split personality.

“Contrast Pochettino’s personality with that of Jose Mourinho,” he added. “I have been with him and he can be a lovely guy, but he can be very different when you are one of his players.

“Ask Luke Shaw what he is like and you will realise very quickly he has a different personality when you are not on his side. I never understand why he needs to be two people in this way, but this is how Mourinho will always be.”

Brave New World: Inside Pochettino's Spurs by Guilleme Balagué is available in bookshops and online outlets.

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