Mauricio Pochettino opens up about his relationship with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
The Argentinian discusses how things work behind the scenes at Spurs and the difference in the injuries to Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld
Mauricio Pochettino says he and chairman Daniel Levy are like a married couple who began their relationship with different concerns, but now appreciate each other’s perspectives better, which helps with decision-making.
The boards of Spurs and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust met last week and the minutes state: “DL (Levy) felt that Mauricio Pochettino is the best manager in all the time he has been at Tottenham. They see eye to eye in terms of strategy. No player would be sold that MP (Pochettino) wanted to stay.”
That implies Pochettino has the final word over departures and could insist on keeping Toby Alderweireld this summer, even if the Belgian centre-back is still involved in a contract stand-off with the club.
Such an issue could divide a chairman and manager, with the former generally being primarily concerned with financial affairs while the latter argues for what is best for the team.
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Yet Pochettino feels he and his boss have become less polarised in their perspectives since joining forces in 2014 – a factor which has helped them to find agreement when contentious issues arise.
“We share the decision between Daniel, us and now Steve [Hitchen, the chief scout],” said the Argentinian. “The last word is [shared] between us.
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“If you disagree it’s like when you’re at home - when you disagree with your wife or your girlfriend, you fight until one gets the final decision.
“We started like this,” continued Pochettino, with his arms wide apart, “on opposite sides, and then we started to build our relationship, a personal relationship and professional relationship.
“It’s about balance. On my side, as a manager, I can say ‘I want this’ or ‘I don’t want this’, but in another side I can affect the financial side. Also, if you take only decisions on the financial side, that can affect the football.
“It’s a relationship like when you’re married. Four years in football is long. The most important thing is to work like a team. We need to behave like a team on the pitch if we want to win.
“If Daniel, because he is the owner and chairman, takes his own decision and that affects the changing room and the football, I think it’s not a good balance. If I take a decision and don’t check with him, it’s going to affect his job.
“The most important thing is try to find the balance and all work together - and we’re working all together on all the decisions.”
While Alderweireld’s long-future at Tottenham is unclear, it is fairly certain that he will be unable to face Juventus in next week’s Champions League tie, having recently felt discomfort around the hamstring that he tore back in November - an injury that sidelined him for three months.
Asked whether the Belgian could recover in time for the second leg against the Italian giants, Pochettino said: “He’s still recovering. He’s still not participating with the group. The answer is clear. You’re clever.”
Alderweireld’s setback has justified Pochettino’s decision to leave the 28-year-old at home when Tottenham faced Juventus in the first leg in Turin a fortnight ago.
“Sometimes, people are confused about what it means to be fit, and then you need to analyse it,” said the Spurs manager. “You asked me earlier about Jan Vertonghen and Toby [and when they can return]. It’s not the same.
“If you twist or get a knock on your ankle, in the moment that the pain disappears, you can play. It’s not a problem.
“But when you [tear a muscle], after that you are fit but [only] fit to participate in training - and then it’s being fit to play, and then fit to compete. It’s a different process and sometimes it’s longer, depending on the injury.
“Sometimes people create an expectation and then we’re the bad guys, when we say ‘no you cannot play’ or ‘we start to build your fitness step by step’.
“If you have your best player at 100 per cent, it’s sure that he increases your level and he’s going to help. But we don’t take our decisions based on public opinion.
“People say ‘this player is fit, he should play’, but it’s not like that. The way it works [is how I’ve explained], especially with this kind of injury.”
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