As has been touted in the media for the past few weeks, Mauricio Pochettino has been confirmed as the new head coach of Tottenham Hotspur.
Although Tim Sherwood was handed an 18-month contract when he succeeded the sacked Andre Villas-Boas in December, few expected him to see out such a length of time unless he steered the team to UEFA Champions League qualification. And despite a favourable record to that of his predecessors since the inception of the Premier League, the 45-year-old could only lead Spurs to a sixth-place finish, some 10 points behind rivals Arsenal in fourth position.
Sherwood was dismissed shortly after the final game of the season, a 3-0 home win against Aston Villa on 11 May, by which time speculation had already begun that Pochettino was being lined up to replace him. The Argentine was a controversial choice to succeed the popular Nigel Adkins at Southampton last January, but it took him little time to impress when leading the Saints clear of relegation, which was followed by an 8th place finish this time round.
It wasn’t just the results which caught the attention of Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, but the attacking style in which Pochettino sent his team out to play. Indeed, Roy Hodgson has named three Southampton players in his England squad for the World Cup Finals – Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, and Luke Shaw – and they would likely have been joined by Jay Rodriguez had the former Burnley youngster not suffered a knee injury in the defeat at Manchester City in April.
Spurs have now confirmed that Pochettino, who has also coached in Spain with Espanyol, has signed a five-year contract at White Hart Lane. The 42-year-old former Argentina international, who won 20 caps for his county and lined up against England in the 2002 World Cup Finals, is thrilled to be given the opportunity to coach at one of the elite clubs of the English game, and he has vowed to stick to his principles of instructing his players to serve the fans with entertaining football.
“This is a club with tremendous history and prestige and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be its head coach,” Pochettino said in a statement on the official club website. “There is an abundance of top-class talent at the club and I am looking forward to starting work with the squad. Tottenham Hotspur has a huge following across the world and I have great admiration for the passion the fans show for this team. We are determined to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success that we are all looking to achieve.”
One high priority objective for Pochettino to achieve next season will be to get the best out of compatriot Erik Lamela. The 22-year-old became the club’s record signing when he joined from Roma for a potential £30million during the summer, but he endured a horrendous debut season in England. The forward played just nine times in the Premier League, of which only three came from a starting position, and he hasn’t been seen since the 3-0 win over Stoke City in December.
Southampton, meanwhile, are now seeking a new manager. Michael Laudrup, the former Denmark international, could be a good fit. The 49-year-old was surprisingly sacked by Swansea City in March, but during his debut campaign at the Liberty Stadium, he led the Welsh side to a 9th place finish in the top-flight and also delivered their first major honour when they thrashed Bradford City in the League Cup final. Malky Mackay, formerly of Cardiff City, has also been mentioned as a potential target, as has former Manchester United boss David Moyes.