Spurs sack Pochettino: Battle of the Bridge, Champions League comebacks among highs and lows

By Sports Desk November 19, 2019

Mauricio Pochettino arrived at Tottenham as the club's eighth full-time appointment since March 2001.

Juande Ramos secured silverware during his tenure, winning the League Cup in 2008, while Harry Redknapp qualified for the Champions League two years later.

Still, they were the good times. Club legend Glenn Hoddle came with great expectations that fell flat. Frenchman Jacques Santini did not last too long. Andre Villas-Boas failed to pan out. Tim Sherwood did make the gilet popular, but Spurs still decided to dispense with his services.

Then, in 2014, Pochettino turned up. The former Argentina international had shone at Southampton, quickly dispelling the doubters who felt Nigel Adkins had been harshly sacked.

There were plenty of positive moments during his tenure, but also some difficult times. Following the news of his departure on Tuesday, Omnisport picks out a few of the highs and lows of Pochettino's reign.

 

LOW: THE ONLY WAY IS UP

"There is an abundance of top-class talent at the club and I am looking forward to starting work with the squad," Pochettino said following his appointment.

However, Tottenham's standing compared to the other big clubs was laid bare in the first month of the new boss' debut campaign. Liverpool were the visitors, with Spurs hoping for the chance to make something of a statement, but Brendan Rodgers' Reds blew them away with ease by winning 3-0.

It was Spurs' first loss under Pochettino and they went on to miss out on Champions League qualification by six points. 

 

LOW: THE BATTLE OF THE BRIDGE

There was no denying Tottenham's vast improvement between Pochettino's first few months and 2016, when they looked to challenge for a maiden Premier League title.

Crucially, though, when they needed to kick on with the finishing post in sight, the going became too tough. Spurs squandered a 2-0 lead at Chelsea in an ill-tempered London derby to come away with a 2-2 draw, therefore securing a famous success for Leicester City.

"It was a good lesson for us, we are the youngest squad in the league, we feel very proud and our supporters need to feel proud too, we have massive potential for the future," Pochettino said in the aftermath. Such was their collapse down the stretch, they eventually finished third, 11 points behind the Foxes they had been expected to catch.


HIGH: SAYING FAREWELL TO THE LANE IN STYLE

Having seemingly established themselves as top-four regulars, Spurs looked to further consolidate their new-found status by moving to an extravagant new stadium.

In Tottenham's final outing at the more modest White Hart Lane in May 2017, Spurs downed Manchester United 2-1 in front of a crowd enjoying both their team's success and also the chance to be inside the venue for one final time. A glamourous new era seemed to be on the horizon, with Pochettino steering the Spurs ship expertly.

The result made sure they went unbeaten at home for the first time in a league season since 1964-65 as they finished in second place. It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to their famous home.

 


HIGH: UNITED FALL AT OLD TRAFFORD

In August 2018, Pochettino was among the favourites to replace an under-fire Jose Mourinho at United.

Pochettino helped inflict more misery on the Red Devils with an emphatic 3-0 win at Old Trafford, a result that also pushed his claims for the job. Kane and a Lucas Moura double did the damage, making it United's worst start to a league season since 1992-93. 

Yet when Mourinho eventually left United before the turn of the year, Pochettino stayed put. Now a free agent, rumours of a move to the north-west will no doubt grow in the coming weeks and months.


HIGH: EURO VISION SECURES FINAL SPOT

After three games of their campaign in Group B, Tottenham appeared on course to slip out of the Champions League. By June, they were appearing in the final.

Pochettino engineered a remarkable turnaround just to make the knockout stages, where they stunned Manchester City in the quarter-finals thanks to a hotly disputed goal from Fernando Llorente in an eventful second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

There was more drama to come in the last four, with Spurs scoring three times in the second half in Amsterdam to stun Ajax. Lucas Moura was Tottenham's hero, completing his hat-trick in additional time to seal their progression on away goals. A jubilant Pochettino shed tears during wild celebrations with his players.


LOW: MISSED OPPORTUNITY IN MADRID

Admittedly appearing in a Champions League final hardly feels like a disappointment during the Pochettino era.

Still, there was an air of frustration at how they approached what proved to be a tepid contest in Madrid, with fans bemoaning an apparent lack of attacking intent as a half-fit Harry Kane struggled to make an impact.

Mohamed Salah's early penalty gave Spurs an uphill struggle and Divock Origi wrapped things up late on. Liverpool had barely made it out of second gear but kept their opponents quiet to prevail in an all-English final that will not live long in the memory. 


LOW: BAYERN BATTERING AMID HOME STRUGGLES

Pochettino had hinted he could leave his post prior to the Champions League showpiece, his future seemingly based on the club's progress in the off-season transfer window.

While new faces arrived, their form in the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign has been poor - and that is putting it kindly. In the Premier League, Spurs have picked up just 14 points, their lowest tally after 12 games of a campaign since 2008-09. There was also a 7-2 home loss to Bayern Munich in Europe, the embarrassment exacerbated by an Arsenal academy product – Serge Gnabry – scoring four times for the visitors.

A 1-1 draw with Sheffield United turned out to be Pochettino's final game in charge. There is still time for Spurs to turn things around, of course, but it will have to be with a new man at the helm.

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  • Manchester City 2-1 Bournemouth: Silva and Jesus nudge Cherries closer to the brink Manchester City 2-1 Bournemouth: Silva and Jesus nudge Cherries closer to the brink

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    Junior Stanislas went close with a free-kick of his own just past the half-hour mark, as Ederson tipped it on to the post and then got lucky as the ball struck his head and went out for a corner.

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    What does it mean? A hint of hope remains for Bournemouth

    Even after their remarkable win over Leicester, this was never going to be a realistic chance for three points, given the obvious gulf between the two sides.

    In any other scenario, this loss would have essentially doomed Bournemouth, but they can take solace in the fact that at least one of Watford and West Ham – the two teams directly above them on 34 points – will drop points on Friday as they face each other at London Stadium.

    Silva stands out

    It was hardly a vintage performance from City, but Silva was his usual classy self, opening the scoring in style, before releasing Jesus for his goal with a well-weighted pass.

    Big shoes to Phil

    Phil Foden is expected to be Silva's so-called heir at City, and while there is no doubt he is a fine talent, he was a little quiet in this game. He did eventually come to life towards the end, setting up half-time substitute Sterling for a chance before then going close himself, but on the whole he was somewhat disappointing.

    What's next?

    City turn their attentions to the FA Cup now, as they prepare to face Arsenal at Wembley in Saturday's semi-final clash, before going to Watford in the league three days later. Bournemouth's faltering fight against relegation resumes with the visit of Southampton on Sunday.

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