New Spurs manager made plenty of mistakes
31 May ~ Mauricio Pochettino's 16 months as Southampton manager will be remembered, but for what exactly is not completely clear. The club enjoyed a period of mid-table Premier League comfort while he was in charge. There were also rare points gained at Old Trafford and Anfield. Anything seemed possible, even if it didn't always materialise. February's fifth round FA Cup defeat to what was a struggling Sunderland side resulted in Pochettino being criticised by Southampton fans for resting several automatic choices.
While there are no guarantees a full strength team would have won, the consensus was that surely it would have been better to have had a real go at the competition with a first choice XI. This was a rare blip though and it's unlikely any Southampton supporter would have wanted him to leave.
Pochettino continued where Nigel Adkins left off, blooding players from the youth academy. There was also money for him to spend that previous managers could only dream of. The £8 million paid for Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren was considered good business, but the club record £15m spent on Dani Osvaldo was an expensive mistake. The fact that Pochettino knew Osvaldo from their time together at Espanyol did little to help improve his lack of discipline. While there was no doubting Osvaldo's brilliant chipped goal against Manchester City, his suspension for fighting with team-mates in training was wholly justified.
But perhaps one of most memorable quirks of his management was his reluctance to speak English during post-match interviews. Fabio Capello leant English quickly while England manager, but this didn't stop some suggesting his lack of command of the language was an obstacle in getting his message across. However, any communication problems regarding Pochettino were forgotten in his fourth game in charge – a 3-1 home win over Manchester City.
He tended to maintain a composed but intense look on the touchline, often stood at the edge of his technical area, arms folded in concentration and occasionally giving quick instruction to his players. He enjoyed the respect of the players, too. This was highlighted by Victor Wanyama, who this week said Pochettino has made him a significantly better player than he was prior to joining the club from Celtic last summer.
Pochettino has been praised by many for the way Southampton have played over the last season and a half. But that praise was put into context by José Mourinho, who said Pochettino had the dream job at St Mary's with good players, a good club, but no pressure. He was probably right. After almost a decade of ups and downs, mid-table in the Premier League is considered relative success for Southampton. In the last few days callers into football phone-ins have said Pochettino needs time to make his mark at White Hart Lane. Few things are certain in football, but surely that is one luxury he will not get. Mark Sanderson