Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham. Will it happen?
It’s the question that everybody’s asking, but one currently impossible to offer a definitive answer to.
It is hardly a well guarded secret that Pochettino is on the Spurs wanted list and that they are highly likely to want to speak with him regarding the vacancy.
However, Spurs are a Premier League club so they are going to chat to everybody on their shortlist before making any decisions.
Obviously they have to offer him the job before he could accept it.
Q: Would he accept it?
A: That will probably become clear in his mind if, and when, he does speak with them.
Pochettino is a hot property.
We have heard people say just how carefully he plans his career and so he will have to be convinced Tottenham fits into his plans as well.
And, once again, he actually has to be offered it in the first place.
Q: Would Tottenham not just be a sideways move?
A: There has been a lot of debate about this.
One argument is looking at the clubs over the past year that Saints and Spurs are fairly similar, or at least could become so with the nucleus of the squad Pochettino has at his disposal.
However, with all due respect to Saints, you have to say at this exact moment Spurs sit at the bottom of that next bracket up.
They have the funds to invest in the team by all accounts and are ambitious.
They already have European football for next season and want to push for the Champions League.
Q: Surely that’s a hiding to nothing – how are Spurs going to break the top four?
A: It won’t be easy.
Look at the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, this season’s top four who are all set to strengthen this summer.
Then factor in Manchester United under Louis van Gaal and the substantial investment that will take place at Old Trafford.
To pick out two of those sides that Spurs are going to finish above takes a fair bit of creative licence.
But having lost another manager and made noises about using more young talent, surely Spurs want some stability and continuity to aim for the top four over a period of a few seasons rather than expecting instant results.
Q: In terms of that career path of Pochettino’s, how would a move to Spurs or staying at Saints fit in?
A: Pochettino is understood to want to manage a genuinely big club one day.
A real giant in the world of football.
He will inevitably, therefore, have his eye on the best way to get there.
Making that sort of jump direct from Saints as they are now is unlikely.
Even if you finish eighth for a couple of seasons in a row, it’s highly improbable you jump from that to some mega club.
So there needs to be a stepping stone on the way.
Tottenham could provide that.
As already discussed, it’s not an easy job but if you achieve with them then big offers could come your way.
Q: Can’t Saints provide him with that opportunity?
A: Yes. Definitely yes.
But that comes with the caveat that it requires substantial investment in the team.
Pochettino has given the impression in recent weeks that big investment in the playing squad is required to make the next step up he requires and if it were to forthcoming it could convince him to stay anyway.
If he thinks that he can push on and achieve loftier targets with Saints, then it stands to reason that he’s on to a good thing here.
Q: He is in a position of power at Saints. Surely it won’t be the same at Tottenham?
A: That is true.
Saints really need him. Desperately.
If he stays, they have a chance of holding everything together.
If he goes, it could spark a real domino effect.
Ever since Nicola Cortese departed Pochettino has very much been allowed to be his own man.
Nobody would dare question him or interfere with what he’s doing.
They simply haven’t been able to afford to risk upsetting him.
At Tottenham he will have to prove himself all over again, and he will be under much greater scrutiny.
Q: And how about Franco Baldini?
A: That’s another factor, with Baldini in situ as the director of football at White Hart Lane.
Pochettino would have to be happy to work in that system.
In one respect, it’s unlikely to bother him too much. Most foreign managers are far more used to this type of system than what we view as the traditional English way of doing things.
However, that almost total control and autonomy that he commands at Saints is quite attractive.
Q: What can Saints do to keep him?
A: Well, firstly he has to be offered a different job.
Pochettino is no fool and if he doesn’t get what he considers to be a better offer he will stay.
He has already been offered a bumper new deal by Saints, one they cannot really improve upon.
Q: Why hasn’t he signed yet then?
A: That is the question everybody is asking.
The only logical conclusion is that he is waiting on something.
One theory is that he is waiting on assurances from the board regarding the future.
The other is that he is keeping his options open and holding out to see if he does get offered the Tottenham job.
Q: It would be better for Saints if he just signed...
A: Of course it would, but if it was you in your job then you would keep your options open just to see what is out there.
Q: Will the futures of some of his star players have a bearing on things?
A: Yes. No manager will want to see his top players sold from under him, and Pochettino committing to Saints gives the club the best chance of keeping hold of the likes of Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.
But Pochettino will be well aware that, with the way modern football is, they could go anyway.
He was a top level player, and so he understands the drill. It’s one of the reasons the players love and respect him so much – he knows what it is like for them and it’s hard to imagine him begrudging them a big chance if it came their way.
What Pochettino would be after is assurances over how the hefty sums of cash the sales would raise will be reinvested.
Even if he hears players are going, it might not be the end of the world ...
... so long as he is told that money can be his to spend as he sees fit.
The ball remains very much in Pochettino’s court.
We wait to see his next move.