Mauricio Pochettino experienced the best time of his life when managing Southampton, yet maintains leaving for Tottenham was the right decision.
The former Argentina international was a relative unknown when he rocked up at St Mary’s to controversially replace the popular Nigel Adkins in January 2013.
It did not take long for Pochettino to win around the doubters, though, and last season Saints enjoyed their best-ever Barclays Premier League campaign – success which persuaded Spurs to bring him to White Hart Lane.
His exit sparked an unparalleled exodus from the club, with chairman Ralph Krueger accusing those players of only wanting a short-cut to Champions League football.
Such comments were also aimed at Pochettino in the wake of his move to White Hart Lane – and were suggestions he was quick to reject.
“No, no, no,” he said. “My decision was my decision for a lot of reasons, but if I don’t talk in the moment, now is for me [time to] forget. I am looking forward.
“Southampton was a great period in my life – I think the best period in my life, that one year and a half.
“A lot of people love me from Southampton and I have very good memories. I don’t… I can’t explain another thing.”
Pochettino faces an emotional reunion with his former club for the first time this Sunday, when, remarkably, Saints arrive looking for a seventh straight win in all competitions.
Such form meant Ronald Koeman’s side began the weekend second in the table, whereas Spurs are in the bottom half after going four league matches without a win.
Furthermore, they have lost their last two top-flight matches at White Hart Lane, but that difficulty to transfer his methods does not mean Pochettino has any regrets at swapping the south coast for north London.
“Yes [it was a big decision to leave], but always in your life you need to take a decision and decide,” he said. “When you take a decision it is always a big decision.
“When I take a decision, I always believe. After, maybe you have luck or no luck, but when you take a decision in your life you always need to be looking forward.”
Pochettino says he still loves Southampton, yet he knows that affection is unlikely to be reciprocated by the travelling support, for whom victory would taste particularly sweet.
A positive result would also fuel talk as to whether they can maintain such form throughout the season – something Pochettino was coy about when asked if they were top-four rivals.
“Some players left,” he said. “The manager and staff left, but they invested a lot of money in the new players.
“They signed very good players and I think the team have a lot of players in Southampton that played with us.
“Maybe, yes, some players left, but they invest in new players and very good players.
“It is the beginning of the season and in football it is not like you finish in May. It is a very long, long, long race.
“I am happy for their start to the season, but today it is impossible to guess what will happen eight months ahead.”
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