Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino's difficult hunt for 'perfect' Premier League job during lockdown

Dan Kilpatrick
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he is raring to return to work and has revealed his "priority" is to remain in the Premier League.

Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Spurs in November but his gardening leave ended on May 19, leaving another club free to appoint him without having to pay Spurs compensation.

"After six months our tanks are completely full," said Pochettino, who is spending lockdown at his family home in north London.

"Always, you dream of the perfect club, the perfect project. [But] the project is not on the table, [so] it’s difficult to assess.

"Today, we are going to live a completely different era in football that we need to discover. It’s difficult to know what project is going to be the right project."

Pochettino and his coaching staff – Jesus Perez, Miguel D'Agostino and Toni Jimenez – have used the past six months to "review everything" from seven years in English football with Southampton and Spurs.

Together, they have rewatched hours of video footage of training sessions and matches, and tweaked their methodologies to be ready for football's "new normality" and ensure they are prepared "for any eventuality".

"Football is very dynamic and you need to be ready for the moment when the offer appears, the new chapter in your professional life," he said.

Pochettino has admirers in the boardrooms at Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea, while he has been linked with a surprise move to Newcastle if their £300million Saudi-backed takeover is approved by the Premier League.

"Of course in my mind, I’m very open to wait for the seduction of the project rather than the country," said the Argentine, who was speaking over Zoom along with his assistant Perez.

"It’s about the club and of course the people – the human dimension. We are so open. Of course, we love England, and the Premier League. We feel very good here. We are still living here in London.

"I am not going change [my feelings] now because I am not involved in the Premier League. Because I am no longer the Tottenham manager, I am not going to change my vision.

"I still think the Premier League is the best league in the world. We enjoy it a lot. Of course, it’s one of the options. Of course, it can be my priority but I am not closed to move to a different country.

"We have our house and our home here. We feel very good for the future in this country. People are very respectful. Football is so exciting. It’s difficult to move to Barcelona. And then my kids: Maurizio is playing for Tottenham, Sebastiano has a girlfriend here in London. The family is moving around here in London.

"At the moment my idea is to stay here, live in London – me, myself and my family.

"[So] yes, it’s going to be difficult [to accept a job overseas] but not impossible. We are professional and we are going to find a way to create again and to feel good. If we do change the country, always we are going to miss England. We spend more than seven years in two amazing places in Southampton and London. We are very lucky people."

Asked how it would feel to face Spurs, Pochettino said: "It might never happen or maybe it happens quick. But like when it happened when we played against Southampton, it’s going to be special, for sure. But it’s going to be a game that we’d try to win as the professionals that we are. Of course, with all my respect for the club, the people and the fans. It would be special to come back to Tottenham."

Pochettino transformed Spurs into challengers for the Premier League title and led them to last season's Champions League Final but the only caveat against his impressive work is his failure to win silverware.

Asked if he feels it is important to win a trophy at his next club, he said: "It depends on the project. When we arrived to Tottenham, it was very clear.

"Of course, when I was at Espanyol, I wanted to win trophies and when I moved to Southampton I wanted to win trophies. The same at Tottenham. The difference is the reality. Look at [Claudio] Ranieri. He won his first title at Leicester when he was nearly at the end of his career.

"People can say he wasn’t a successful coach, people can measure successful people in different ways. It’s easy to say, 'Oh, this guy won a lot of titles and this guy didn’t win'. But the problem is that we are not a coaching staff that started at Bayern Munich.

"If you start your career at Bayern Munich, it’s completely different to if you start your career at Nuremberg – with all respect to Nuremberg. You win a title with Nuremberg, it’s going to be more difficult than at Bayern Munich.

"If we talk like this, then 90 percent of coaches in the world are losers. Because in Spain, there is only Barcelona, Real Madrid. Maybe England is different but in Italy and Germany and France... In France, Paris St.-Germain dominate the league. Coaches are not thinking only about winning titles. It’s many things that are around. You find the motivation and the capacity to chose the right project."

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