A hard-fought, 10 man victory last weekend has been the only respite amidst what has been a terrible season for Tottenham thus far.
If the Southampton win showed grit and togetherness, the 7-2 demolition from Bayern Munich showed the “Spursy” tag rival fans and pundits have thrown Tottenham’s way for years.
Other low points include a defeat to League Two Colchester City and three straight away matches where Spurs threw away leads (Arsenal, Olympiakos and Leicester).
The players and Mauricio Pochettino have come under fire of late. Hot takes include this Spurs team having run its course, that Pochettino either should or will walk away, and that Tottenham are better off sacking him.
Issues very much exist. Pochettino claimed over the summer it was time for a “painful rebuild” in North London (BBC). The lack of player movement in the summer transfer window, coupled with stars like Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderwiereld and Jan Vertonghen being out of contract at the end of current season, has left many players either unfocused or unsettled. However, these issues are overblown, and Pochettino will be going nowhere.
Most importantly, Mauricio and Daniel Levy have had multiple dinners together to clear the air (Telegraph). They don’t always agree, but their relationship remains strong. Levy will not fire him. For one, He’s due a reported £8.5 a year through 2023, which is a lot for Spurs to burn on a sacked coach (Guardian). For another, his work at Tottenham, most notably the Champions League Final run, has risen his stock through the roof. Pochettino leaving would leave a mad scramble among Europe’s elite clubs to secure his services. The last thing Tottenham needs is to strengthen a rival.
The other key ingredient is the players continued belief in Pochettino. Yes, the results have been poor, and yes, comments by the manager and players have alluded to possible fractures. And yet, despite low morale, players continue to keep their frustration in house, rather than speak out to the media.
We still see players bleeding for Tottenham. Academy graduates Harry Kane and Harry Winks will always run through brick walls for the badge. Lucas Moura and Moussa Sissoko signing recent long term contracts shows their belief in the direction of the club. No one would think Toby is leaving in a few months based on his passionate and professional displays.
Mauricio still has Levy’s ear too, as evidenced by the club record purchase of Tanguy Ndombele. The painful rebuild Mauricio referenced may not manifest exactly as he’d envisioned or hoped, and it may take multiple windows to complete. Still, by buying Giovani Lo Celso, Levy backed the manager, and will continue to do so in his ever astute manner.
Pochettino’s most beloved players (Kane, Winks, Hugo Lloris, Son Heung-Min, Erik Lamela and more) are all contracted to Tottenham through at least 2023. If he quit, he would be walking away from a project he built from the ground up. He’d desert men he’s molded. This does not sound like the loyal and charismatic manager fans have loved and supported since 2014.
Pochettino still hurts from that June defeat, but he has not checked out. His measured approach postgame Tuesday night speaks to his belief that the ship may yet steady, and that blowing it up or walking away is ill advised and/or cowardly.
Mauricio loves to say that in football, you need to be brave. Getting through this turbulence, and finishing the season strong, would exemplify that courage. Leaving North London before 2023 would not.
Before long, Tottenham will go on a winning run, and the critics will quiet. The likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United will continue to circle, but Levy won’t let Pochettino leave before his contract is up. He’s critical to the fabric of this team, and deserves the benefit of the doubt. As such, Pochettino will see out his contract. For his players, for the fans, and most importantly, for himself, because his desire to achieve glory with Spurs still burns deep. That glory is not far off, and though the final step is the hardest one to take, Pochettino and the squad believe in themselves to get the job done.
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