Originally published before last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Swansea, on Spursstatman.com.
After the Carling Cup loss to Arsenal, and before the fantastic win against Manchester City, I noticed an uncomfortable amount of #PochOut on Twitter. I saw it suggested on forums that the manager “doesn’t get it” and that playing the lumbering Fazio up against an equally lumbering Giroud was a “sackable offence.” I even saw one comment on an article declaring that the manager doesn’t care about cup football, conveniently forgetting last season’s Carling Cup final appearance.
Even after the City game, there are those who would call Pochettino lucky that his gamble of resting a few players in mid-week paid off. Even in this balanced and excellent piece by James Harris, James described the Manchester City fixture as “must-win” for the manager.
I’m not sure when this level of short-termism crept into the game, but for Spurs fans – after 47,000 managers in 20 years – it is a recipe for disaster. As Gary Neville brilliantly explained on last week’s Monday Night Football, Mauricio Pochettino has done a serious job at Tottenham, inheriting an imbalanced and fractious squad, quickly working out who he wanted and who he didn’t, clearing out the latter, bringing in a few economical signings while balancing the books, reducing the average age of the side and changing the team’s philosophy, fitness and work ethic. In addition, he’s handed crucial roles to young players, improved the relationship between the squad and the fans, and fixed the broken and often poisonous way previous managers spoke to the press. He has done this all in little over a year.
We know that Daniel Levy is playing the long game. The only way to be truly competitive is the new stadium, and the chairman has entrusted this manager with the responsibility of developing a young team that will grow with the stature of the club. The recent departure of Franco Baldini is a symbol of this change in approach.
What Tottenham need now is stability, positivity, intelligence and calm. That seems to have been recognised by those running the place, and now it needs to be recognised by more of the fans. Unless they want to see the club return to the endlessly destructive spin cycle of hiring and firing managers, massive player turnover and crippling uncertainty, this manager deserves their support.
Disappointing results will occur. Some team selections will be confounding. Neither are cause for panic. I remember watching Tottenham in the season that Juande Ramos got sacked, looking at the players and realising that they didn’t care for their manager. They weren’t playing for him. It was blatant, and the situation was irreversible. If that were to ever happen under this regime I’d be very surprised – Pochettino is reportedly adored by the players – but it would be reason enough to make a change. Until such time, and as long as the trajectory is positive, a long-term perspective is necessary.
Most sets of fans like to think they are more knowledgeable and generally less idiotic than those of other clubs. What the disproportionate anger at the extremely unlucky Carling Cup defeat as well as the #PochOut brigade have shown is that Spurs fans are in no way immune to the sicknesses that ravage the modern game: unrealistic expectations, rampant near-sightedness, negative and positive hyperbole and a level of fickleness probably not foreseen when the word was created.
This is a call to arrest that slide into darkness. Not for passive, unthinking support for everything the manager or club does, but a more measured approach that doesn’t lead to Nigel in Hemel Hempstead calling 606 to complain to Robbie Savage that Pochettino doesn’t care about the fans. Leave that kind of embarrassing nonsense behind.
This club has ambition, direction, and at long last a manager who does understand, who has delivered a great deal in a short space of time, and will deliver more if given the time to do so. Don’t chase him out.