Should Mauricio Pochettino have been sacked by Spurs?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tottenham Hotspur have sacked Mauricio Pochettino. Yes, you heard that right. The man who rebuilt a shattered Tottenham side that had lost Gareth Bale, into Champions league finalists consistently finishing Top 4 and were, at one point, challenging for the Premier League title. Sadly this wasn’t enough to buy him time after a disastrous start to 2019/20.

Now, Jose Mourinho is set for a sensational return to English football. We’ve done a whole article on whether the Special One will be a success at Spurs HERE. But the focus of this article is whether the Argentine should’ve been given another chance to rebuild Totttenham. You’d think after everything he had done for them, Daniel Levy would trust him to do so and potentially bring trophies to the club.

Mauricio Pochettino

Unfortunately not for Pochettino. Sadly his time in North London will always be remembered for ‘what could have been’. With that little bit more money to spend and a little bit of luck, we could’ve seen a Premier League and Champions League winning side. Crazy to comprehend when you put it like that. Instead, the former PSG defender leaves with no silverware to his name. As a neutral, you have to feel a bit sorry for him. All that work with nothing to show for.

How UCL final papered over Spurs’ cracks

But statistics don’t lie. Tottenham have been abysmal for the last 2 seasons and it’s hard to deny. The Champions League fairy tale run to the final papered over the cracks in the side. The tensions in the dressing room, the friction behind the scenes. Even their run to the final had an element of luck with contentious VAR calls. They lost 13 times in 2018/19, and somehow still made Top 4. Partly because of Arsenal and Manchester United being in complete chaos themselves.

This season too, the North London side have looked shocking. They sit in 14th place, just 6 points above the relegation zone. The team looks flat and short of inspiration. There have been multiple reports of tensions in the dressing room, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen in particular. Whether the rumours are true, we’ll never know. Conceding 7 against Bayern at home and 3 to Brighton too, it’s been humiliating so far for Tottenham. That Amazon documentary will be a good watch, no doubt.

Top jobs beckoning for Mauricio Pochettino?

Either way, Mauricio Pochettino’s departure makes sense. The media expected it, we expected it and perhaps it’s fair to say he expected it. He took Spurs as far as he could and leaves with his head held high. The former Southampton coach is without doubt one of the best managers available on the market and there’s no doubt he’ll be back in a job in no time. Real Madrid? PSG? It’ll be a top job, I’m sure of it.

Mauricio Pochettino

As for Tottenham, Mourinho is close to completion, according to Sky Sports. Whether that pans out or not, only time will tell. He’s a serial winner, but is he still cut out for a job at the top level? Either way it’ll be box office for the neutrals.

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Will Jose Mourinho be a success at Tottenham Hotspur?

Tottenham Hotspur shocked the footballing world earlier today. Sacking Mauricio Pochettino after a chaotic start to 2019/20 will inevitably be the headline of every tabloid tomorrow. The man who rebuilt a shattered Spurs squad into a title competing, top 4 guaranteeing (until this season) and Champions League finalist side in five years.. An incredible period that unfortunately had no silverware to show for. But his likely successor Jose Mourinho knows all about winning trophies...

According to multiple credible sources, including Sky Sports News, the Portuguese is in talks with the North London side to become their next manager. An announcement could be as quick as tomorrow, if talks go swiftly. This is a statement of intent by Spurs. Sacking one of their best ever managers for a poor start to the season and appointing one of the greatest managers of all time. It shows ambition.

Jose Mourinho the man?

Is Jose the Jose Mourinho of 10 years ago? The treble winning underdog who proved all his critics wrong? Many would argue no, perhaps they’re right:

Jose Mourinho’s recent history isn’t great…

Despite winning the Premier League in his second spell at Chelsea, the following season was a disaster to say the least. The Eva Carneiro saga and a toxic atmosphere that saw Chelsea drop from champions to a relegation battle. Mourinho had pushed Abramovich too far which costed him his job. Still, the former Porto manager had proven he still had it. People saw this 2015/16 disaster as an anomaly on Jose’s remarkable C.V.

Jose Mourinho Chelsea
Source: Sky Sports

Then Manchester United came calling. An acquisition that excited the Old Trafford faithful the most since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Mourinho was expected to bring back the glory days to Manchester. It didn’t quite go as planned. A Europa League, League Cup and Champions League football in his first season was a considered a success. A 2nd place finish was still acceptable for the Red Devils, despite the uninspiring and ‘boring’ football. But a poor start to 2018/19 was enough for the 2 time Champions League winning manager to get the sack.

Financial demands and 3rd season syndrome

Now, his stock had fallen for the first time in his career. The Special One had supposedly lost his touch. Losing his last two jobs has seen two big questions asked about the 56 year old:

Whether he can operate on a low budget anymore, considering the financial capital that has been available to him recently,remains to be seen It’s been a while since his miraculous period at Porto and hundreds of millions spent still couldn’t bring the Premier League back to the red of Manchester. Daniel Levy is notorious for being tight with the finances. Whether that be with the club’s wage structure or transfers. Granted the recent purchase of the stadium means he can’t afford to ‘splash the cash’ as such. But will there be a friction-less relationship between him and Jose? I wouldn’t put money on it…

Jose Mourinho managerial history
Not once has Jose Mourinho exceeded 3 seasons at one club in his managerial career

This now notorious ‘3 season syndrome’ that has clouded Jose Mourinho his entire career. Even during his most decorated spells. His inability to stay at a club for a prolonged period of time makes clubs looking to establish long term stability as well as a vision makes him less desirable. It’s almost becoming a gamble. Either he’s a glittering success within two seasons or he’s out of the door. Not the most reassuring statement for a chairman or the fans.

Was it ALL Jose Mourinho’s fault?

But on the flip side, Jose Mourinho’s CV speaks for itself. Champions Leagues, a treble, league titles won in Italy, Spain and England. He is the definition of a serial winner. The fact he has rejected proposals from China suggests he still has that hunger and desire to win. As you would accept from someone as accomplished as him.

Mourinho loves being the underdog, something Spurs have been pretty much since the start of the Premier League. At Porto against Europe’s elite, the underdog. When he was new to the Premier League against the duopoly of Manchester United and Arsenal, underdog. When he stunned the mighty Barcelona at the Camp Nou with Inter. Underdog. He will relish the chance to defy the odds, silence his critics and potentially bring some silverware to, a fair to say, barren Spurs trophy cabinet.

It could also be argued that the former Los Blancos and Nerazzurri manager wasn’t completely at fault for his last failures. Chelsea players, prior to Frank Lampard, had shown their habit of downing tools under multiple managers. Mourinho, Conte, even Sarri for the first half of the season. Three managers that all left within 2 years. There’s a common denominator here…

Manchester United

At Manchester United, yes he spent ridiculous sums of money. But didn’t he have to with what he was up against? A Pep Guardiola Manchester City side that has had endless sums of cash poured into it. A Liverpool team that have spent world record fees on their defence. It’s not as if he’s the odd one out here. High levels of spending is normal, especially in this modern day market with inflated prices. It’s not as if Mourinho has a huge financial edge over his competition.

Moreover, that United side is hardly thriving since his departure. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is only two points above the managerless Spurs side. Says it all really. To win 2 trophies (not counting the Community Shield), reach an FA Cup final and finish 2nd with that squad isn’t exactly glittering success. But it’s not failure either. The treble winning coach doesn’t call it one of his greatest achievements for no reason…

In terms of the style of play, it’s not pretty on the eye. I’ll agree with that. But pragmatism has got Jose to where he is today. If defensive football and ‘parking the bus’ can win games against the big sides, Spurs fans won’t complain.

Jose Mourinho – Can he do it AGAIN?

If Jose Mourinho is able to instil that winning mentality into this Tottenham side, this could be massive for the league. This is EXACTLY the situation the three time Premier League champion wants. Underdog, doubters and fair to say low expectations. I genuinely think Tottenham will take Top 6 this season. I mean, they’re 14th for goodness sake.

Jose Mourinho

But if the toxicity from his last two jobs carries over to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we could be in for quite a ride. It’s a do or die situation for Mourinho too. If he ends up getting sacked from this job with minimal success, that’s his career in top tier football over. However, he’s the Special One for a reason. Never underestimate him…

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Ivan Rakitic: Barcelona midfielder’s awkward situation

Ivan Rakitic has been at Barcelona for 5 seasons now. He’s won 4 La Liga titles, 4 Copa Del Reys, a Champions League, the list goes on. But from my perspective, it seems like the Croatian international is underappreciated. Perhaps I’m wrong, I don’t watch the Blaugrana week in week out. However, whenever I’ve seen him play, he puts in a great performance.

Either way, Rakitic has been given the green light to leave the Camp Nou. Sporting Director Eric Abidal confirmed that he was surplus to requirements in Catalonia, in an interview with Mundo Deportivo

Just 7 appearances in La Liga in 2018/19, the former Sevilla midfielder is subject of interest from various teams in Europe. This is despite being 31 years old, a testament to how good he still is. Reports are linking him to Juventus, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid. He still has a lot to give and Barcelona seem to think so as well.

According to multiple outlets, including the Daily Mail, they have rejected a £13 million bid from an unnamed Premier League club for the Croat. The Catalan club reportedly want around £30 million for Rakitic, a fee that may put off potential suitors, considering his age as well as salary.

The player wants to leave and the club want to sell him. But the asking price seems ridiculous, coupled with the salary. It’s without doubt a strange and awkward situation for both parties.

Ivan Rakitic strikes for goal.
Source: Getty Images

Does Ivan Rakitic justify £30 million?

As I mentioned before, Ivan Rakitic is still a class player. The former Schalke midfielder is a well rounded midfielder. Whether that be scoring goals in the Champions League final or putting in last ditch tackles to start an attack, he’s an industrious player in the centre of park, who works hard for the team. Often not recognised when you’re in a side full of stars. It’s hard when you’ve got Lionel Messi alongside you!

Either way, I believe Barcelona will be forced to lower their asking price if they want to sell him in January. He’s a great player, but is not getting any better and not worth £30 million.

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Sander Berge: Potential as high as Håland and Odegaard?

Norway is a country brimming with football talent. The likes of Martin Ødegaard and Erling Håland are making daily headlines for their impressive performances. Historically too, players like Ole Gunnar Solskjær have done the country proud. But there are still so many players from the Scandinavian country that aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Exhibit A: Sander Berge.

The Genk midfielder is beginning to get admirers after a string of impressive performances this season. The 21 year old is a target of both Chelsea and Liverpool, according to GOAL. The Blues will reportedly rival Klopp for his signature in January, if their transfer ban is lifted on Wednesday.

Berge, as aforementioned, hasn’t been making headlines like his two compatriots. But that doesn’t mean he is any less talented. Let me elaborate on that:

Sander Berge – Style of Play

At 6ft 5, the midfielder is a massive physical presence in midfield. His ability to shrug off anyone pressing him and almost glide beyond them is a joy to watch. The Norway international uses his strength to his advantage, allowing him to transition quickly from his own box into the final third. But Berge’s game isn’t reliant on his stature. As shown in the video, he’s extremely comfortable on the ball.

On multiple occasions, he is seen skipping past the opposition, either with ` flick around the corner or an elegant dribble. Hardly what you expect from such a giant in midfield. Berge also has finesse to his game. Reminiscent of a young Sergio Busquets, a testament to how easy he makes the game look.

The Genk box to box midfielder consistently makes surging runs forward, as mentioned before. Almost like a winger running at a fullback, but with physical strength. So unique for someone with his frame. But he also has technical ability, averaging 3 long balls per game in the Champions League this season. Has a shot on him too…

Source: Getty Images

I couldn’t find his defensive statistics from the Belgian First Division, but I suspect they’re high. From the UEFA Champions League: 1 tackle and 1.3 interceptions per game isn’t exceptional, but it’s not bad. If Berge has improvements to make, they would be with his defensive duties. Regardless, he looks like a serious talent and at 21 years old, the sky is the limit for him.

Already 19 caps for the Norwegian national team, Sander Berge has potential to be special. A move to the Premier League and I’m sure we’ll be hearing his name a lot more.

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Player Profiles: Pau Torres

According to HITC, Arsenal are planning a move for Villarreal central-defender Pau Torres. But who exactly is the 22 year-old Spaniard?

Born in Villarreal, a small suburb just outside of Valencia, Pau Torres has played for Los Amarillos for his whole career. A loan spell at Málaga last season gave him vital experience and he is now a regular in the Villarreal first team.

Arsenal have always struggled defensively. Since the days of the Invincibles, there has been a lack of solidity in their backline – Johan Djourou and Sébastien Squillaci come to mind. They have tried and they have failed to find the man to plug the hole. They’ve even thrown £35m at Shkodran Mustafi, but to no avail. Can Pau Torres finally be the one to fix Arsenal’s leaky defence?

Pau Torres – Style Of Play

At 6ft 3in, Pau Torres’ lanky frame makes him dominant aerially. But, similar to Spanish central defenders of the past, he is good on the ball. Averaging 60 passes per game, Villarreal’s number four enjoys to switch the play to the opposite flank. Of course, playing out the back is key, however, Torres’ five clearances per game show that he is also not afraid to dispatch the ball into the stands if need be.

Pau Torres on his first and only Spanish first team appearances.
One Spanish cap, one goal.

Overall, there is a lack of convincing evidence that suggests Pau Torres could perform in the Premier League – a risky move. Nevertheless, we have seen Matteo Guendouzi arise from nowhere and the same could be said for Torres. He has potential, but is he ready? Only time will tell. Capped by Spain and improving every week. Certainly an exciting player.

However, they will have to fight Manchester City for Torres’ signature. January is the desired window for Arsenal as they try to get back on track following a sub-par start to the season. We are excited to see him progress over Christmas, and maybe an Arsenal move could just be on the cards.

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