While hardly one of football’s most decorated coaches, Jamie Carragher summed up what makes Mauricio Pochettino such a great manager on Monday Night Football early in 2021.
“What Pochettino did that was special was he made Spurs fans believe they could win the biggest trophies.”
The Argentine has given fans great memories wherever he has been, and his journey with Paris Saint-Germain should yield more silverware.
Here are some of Pochettino’s best moments in management.
Having spent a combined 10 years there as a player, Pochettino’s first job in management came with Espanyol – and he was tasked with saving them from relegation.
He first had to navigate a Copa del Rey tie with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, and after just a few training sessions, Pochettino had drilled his players well enough to hold them to a 0-0 draw.
But their work against the eventual treble winners wasn’t done there.
Espanyol claimed their first league win at the home of their rivals in a generation a month later, with Pochettino’s men prevailing 2-1.
Pochettino was appointed Southampton boss amid fan fury of the popular Nigel Adkins’ sacking. Besides, people in England only really remembered the new Saints manager as that guy who fouled Michael Owen at the World Cup.
He had a lot of people to win over, and his first win at St Mary’s was a big one – defeating reigning Premier League champions Manchester City 3-1.
Liverpool’s long-standing relationship with Southampton (that they buy their best players fairly regularly) may have kicked off when the Saints claimed a famous win at Anfield – Dejan Lovren grabbed the winner.
One of Pochettino’s lasting legacies in England has been his work in developing young talent.
Under his tutelage, three Southampton players – Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert (alright, he was 32) – made England’s 2014 World Cup squad, while Jay Rodriguez was also expected to go before suffering a serious knee injury.
It took some time for Pochettino to get going at Tottenham, but after half a season of getting adjusted to his new squad and his new squad getting adjusted to his methods, things started to look up.
Eventual title winners Chelsea were beaten 5-3 at White Hart Lane, with Harry Kane emerging as one of the world’s best young strikers.
Suddenly, the big wins kept on rolling for Tottenham.
After falling a goal down at home to rivals Arsenal, Spurs dominated and rallied back to win 2-1, with Kane turning the game around with a second half brace.
By now, Pochettino had finally won over the fanbase.
Spurs took a huge leap under Pochettino in the 2015/16 season, battling Leicester for the Premier League title.
While they felt short in the end, Pochettino still ensured Tottenham finally returned to the Champions League after a five-year absence.
Another strong title challenge followed in the 2016/17 season, with Spurs’ 86 points the highest ever recorded in the club’s history.
While they lost the race to Chelsea, Pochettino’s Tottenham departed White Hart Lane after going the entire season there unbeaten.
And so Spurs headed to Wembley for a year and a half, with the real high point coming against Champions League holders Real Madrid.
Billed as Pochettino’s audition for the job at the Santiago Bernabeu one day, two goals from Dele Alli and one from Christian Eriksen sealed a famous 3-1 win for Tottenham.
Pochettino had to navigate Spurs through a summer transfer window where they signed nobody, and then over half a season longer than expected at Wembley before returning home to north London.
Features of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were designed with Pochettino’s blessing and at his request, making it a shame that he hardly ever managed there in the grand scheme of things.
Tottenham had one half of football to score three goals to reach their first ever Champions League final.
They did it.
Best moment of my life (someone remind me to update this when I get married or have kids or something).
When Pochettino was appointed PSG boss at the back end of 2020, it seemed the stars had aligned and he would finally get the ‘but what has he won?’ monkey off his back.
Indeed he did – PSG beat rivals Marseille 2-1 in the Trophee des Champions. Shove that in your trophy cabinet.
Time is a circle, apparently.
12 years after first claiming a win at Camp Nou, Pochettino returned to do it again in the Champions League last 16, with Kylian Mbappe’s marvellous hat-trick giving PSG a 4-1 first leg lead.