Friday 23 August 2019

John Giles: Mauricio Pochettino has broken one of football's golden rules - and it could derail Spurs' season

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino looked unimpressed with his side's showing
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino looked unimpressed with his side's showing

John Giles

MAURICIO Pochettino faced a barrage of queries about his book this week, linking it with Spurs’ dismal form since it was published but nobody asked the obvious question. Why did he write it?

Why did he break the dressing room omerta?

Just a month ago, I saw enough in Spurs to rate them as worthy challengers to the form team so far this season, Manchester City, for the title.

That despite the festering issue of Daniel Levy’s wage restraint which caused Danny Rose to publicly complain about Spurs’ salary structure in August.

On the face of it, Pochettino did well to keep a lid on that and when Harry Kane put on his scoring boots and ran riot, Spurs had the kind of momentum that managers dream about.

Then came the first extracts of ‘Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs’ which, among other things, revealed how Jose Mourinho was sniffing around Eric Dier last year.

Pochettino went into extraordinary detail describing how he confronted Dier about Mourinho and while this was a fascinating insight into the murky world of player transfers, all I could think while I was reading it was why? Why write this stuff?

In the last few days, stories have popped up suggesting that Dier and other players are unhappy with the book and no surprise there.

I’m very puzzled by this, I have to say. Everything I’ve seen from Pochettino as a manager marks him as one of the good ones. I’m not entirely certain he has the full library of football knowledge he needs but I would have seen him as a sensible lad who avoids headlines where possible and just gets on with his job.

That’s the type of manager players love and would run through walls to impress. Even the issue about poor wages would not break that bond. Levy signs the cheques, not Pochettino.

But the publication of a book which shines an unwelcome light on the very fragile and intimate relationship between a manager and his players changes everything. It seems an obvious thing to say that players don’t like this kind of fly on the wall examination. Let’s be honest, who would?

But it’s such a rare thing to see a book delve so deep. Inside their bubble, they will feel betrayed by their manager.

Not so long ago, the dressing room was the holy of holies and nothing ever got out but Alex Ferguson broke the taboo after he retired with books that spared nobody.

At least he had the sense to wait. Pochettino is only starting out but this book will be with him forever.

When you look at the timing of the Tottenham slump, it’s hard not to see a connection.

After hammering Liverpool 4-1, a great run stuttered to a halt soon after the first extracts hit the newspapers.

Sure, Kane missed a few games around that time with a hamstring pull but there is now decent evidence that the run of poor performances has a more complex root than simply losing your best player briefly.

I hope I’m wrong. If trust has broken down, Pochettino is in a difficult place and we will see that on the pitch over the coming weeks.

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