Why Mauricio Pochettino is out of touch with his Tottenham trophy commentsby Andy Dillon / 29 January 2019, 13:23Tweet
The current joke doing the rounds aimed at Tottenham shows TV news footage of a billowing dust storm engulfing a Saharan Desert city.
The caption above describes it as a large cloud spreading across London as the old trophy cabinet is moved into Spurs’ new stadium. Boom boom.
It’s actually reasonably amusing and even a lot of Spurs fans find it funny at the same time they shake their heads in disbelief as another season of wondrous potential fails to generate any material glory in the shape of a cup.
Less humorous but more baffling is the follow up comment from coach Mauricio Pochettino in the wake of two cup exits in four days that have ended any hopes of glory, glory Tottenham Hotspur this year.
Normally good with words the Argentine manager claims ‘trophies are for egos’ - in other words dismissing trophies, medals, gongs, silverware etc as meaningless baubles that only satisfy personal ambition.
While Pochettino’s players are quite used to being out of step with the opposition as they have been in the last two games, it is weird for their articulate, youthful and engaging manager to put a foot wrong when it comes to analysing his team.
While it is correct that trophies fuel the egos of players, why is that considered such a bad thing in his eyes? Getting players pumped up and full of self-confidence is a well tried virtuous circle.
Winning one cup tends to lead to winning a few more and breeding an air of invincibility in a club that spawns a few years of success.
Jose Mourinho’s first trophy at Chelsea was the League Cup and he says it was the catalyst for a era of domination which has brought in five Premier League titles, a Champions League triumph and five FA Cups since.
Lifting trophies fuels egos but it also fuels bank balances too.
Win a cup and sponsors and commercial partners are falling over themselves to get their logo on your shirt, their company’s moniker at the stadium. Name your price.
When that happens the cash starts rolling in and that means more money to buy new and better players and to pay more to the ones you already have and want to keep.
In Tottenham’s case that’s Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen for starters.
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Kane is an oddity in football. He was given a chance by Spurs having been ditched by Arsenal and is desperate to stay put. But even he has an ego.
Winning the World Cup golden boot is not going to keep him happy for ever.
Eriksen is widely considered the best midfielder in England at the moment. With inbuilt Danish modesty he stays quiet and says the right things. But bet your last Krone that he too is getting hungry for a medal or two.
Footballers are a strange breed. Most managers will tell you that they thrive on competition - at any level.
Ian Holloway once told me that at Plymouth Argyle he got the best out of his boys in training matches by putting a Mars bar up as the prize for the winning team.
If they’ll run through walls for chocolate just think what hoisting a silver pot does for the heart and the application.
Pochettino won the Argentine first division and two Spanish FA Cups as a player. It doesn’t sound much but you can rest assured that somewhere in his mind he keeps the cherished memories of those brief glory-filled moments locked away for posterity.
To deny his players the same rush of blood and exultation with such disdain is out of touch and incredibly risky.