Tottenham`s Pochettino and Liverpool`s Jurgen Klopp,a comparison of their respective projects early beginnings.
On the 27th May 2014 Maurico Pochettino was appointed Head coach of Tottenham Hotspur,with a lengthy 5 year contract tying him to the club.Spurs fans were in part underwhelmed by chairman Daniel Levy`s appointment having been linked to high profile and highly thought of Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal all spring before he opted to take the poisoned chalice at the theatre of screams.It was a quiet post season appointment,no fanfare,no intense media frenzy much like the man himself it was discreet and understated.Meanwhile 17 months later Liverpool dispensed with Brendan Rodgers after a mediocre start to their league campaign,having failed to keep their two biggest saleable assets in Suarez and Sterling previously,and spending a sizeable chunk of Fenway`s dollars on top of the two huge fees received on a hotch potch of playing personnel (but more on that later).
In comparison Klopp arrived to messiah complex like plaudits from fans and media,once again it was their year,a full OctoberKloppfest was initiated.The very annoying “Kloppcam” in their first match which of course had to be at White Hart Lane,the media couldnt get enough,german flags sold out in the north-west,Liverpool, revitalised would challenge again…….Or would they??
Who`s laughing now??
Today,Spurs sit 2nd,true title contenders,Liverpool sit 13 points behind in 8th place,the goal difference gap is an incredible 30,Liverpool this season will suffer the ignomy of being what Spurs have previously been labelled;a cup side.That is the difference now,but there are remarkable similarities between the two appointments and state of play in the clubs they inherited.Not just the pressing,high energy game style both managers demand of their teams.Judging Klopp at this stage after 4 months of course isnt fair,but fair to say Kloppmania has gone and Kloppcam thankfully too.Honeymoon over?
Similarities and subtle differences.
Obviously in respects both clubs were failing their owners ambitions,champions league football seemingly key in being judged a success,because both took the plunge on the managerial merry-go round.Both clubs had windfalls of spanish tv and middle-eastern oil money and squandered a fair chunk of it (more in Liverpools case).For Spurs` Paulinio,Soldado,dare I say pre-Poch Lamela high profile signing failures,Liverpools list is more comprehensive;Lovren,Markovic,Lallana,Benteke,Firminio,ballotelli and whilst spurs did their traditional net save from transfers,Pool had a net spend of some £66m on top of the £100m received for Sterling and Suarez.Ouch!!
Both clubs are redeveloping their respective stadia,maybe precursors to transfer austerity with the costs involved?Pochettino has gone with youth,cheap&eager to listen and learn the ways demanded,I saw figures that the starting line up at Norwich cost less than the fee received for Bale!!Can Fenway sustain the net transfer spend of £30m per season and redevelop Anfield?there are not a lot of saleable assets from what they will look to move on,and yet they say judge Klopp once he has signed his own team.Do they have the upcoming youth or Klopp the ability to coach and improve as Pochettino has done with Dembele,Dier and Lamela?Lets not forget Tottenham`s squad too was in complete disarray until we simply sold a bunch and bought in under the radar players like Dier,Alli,Wimmer and Son on top of the “kids” promoted.
Turning it around
Pochettino had an uneasy beginning with spurs fans,early results had by October led to Poch out mutterings from some,then Pochettino weilded the axe cut Kaboul,Adebayor,Lennon and several other players and banished them.Asking in turn academy players Mason,Bentaleb,Kane to show the energy&passion that had been missing.The rest is history,a cup final and a respectable 5th place final standing.But that wasnt quite that,a shaky early run in his 2nd season,mostly through drawing it has to be said not losing,led to more rumblings from some quarters before the unbeaten run and finally getting into the top 4 has them presently sitting pretty,above expectations.
Klopp`s Liverpool have been consistantly inconsistant,winning handsomely away at Chelsea and City,but losing 6 including home to Palace&hated rivals Man Utd, at Watford,Newcastle and the now infamous “open top bus” draw against WBA at home.Like Pochettino he has taken them to the league cup final in his first season,and like us big underdogs to win that final,and as last year for Spurs they have a nitemare schedule in Feb/march,cups,europe and league coming far too thick and fast for a thin looking squad already playing catch up in the league.
So what is to be done?
Well for Tottenham and Pochettino,it looks simple,more of the same please and see if the added experiences gained by the club this season can fend off Pep at City,Jose at United?whomever?? at Chelsea,traditional rivals Arsenal and Klopp`s Liverpool with his own signings and pre-season.That all seems a bit easy,just carry on quietly climbing and hope no one notices the methodology that doesnt involve spending hundreds of millions to create a team.
For Klopp it`s not looking quite so simple,does he like Pochettino lose patience with experienced high cost players and start afresh?not so easy when you have a cup final ahead and other cups to chase.Pochettino rang the changes before the cup run began,infact the masterstroke of bringing Ryan Mason on as sub when trailing to Forest at home,can be seen as the start of the rise of this new resilient Spurs.Not quite as significant as Mark Robbins goal saving Fergie,but Ryans belter breathed life back into the club,took us to the cup final and would see against Villa in the league shortly after,Poch finding the way ahead,”ones of our own” Rose,Kane,Bentaleb,Mason and the “smells like team spirit”,playing for the shirt not seen in far too long.
Can Klopp look within and find youth or improve individuals like Pochettino has?or will he most likely look to spend (on top of north of £100m to redevelop Anfield) and join what will be a transfer “bun fight” between Pep,whomever at Chelsea and United in the summer.A keeper,defence,fragile midfield and expensive non firing strikers should make for quite a shopping list.Pochettino has been either blessed,lucky or very good to have added Alli,Dier,Alderweireld and have the academy provide him with Kane.As both clubs know from recent experience,signing a handful of players in one sitting is a risk.
And here is the rub,Pochettino has in quick time got a squad to believe in his project,and work in unity to whatever he demands of them,systems,fitness,a level of professionalism and personal discipline.Finally it seems supporters too are almost in unison in the belief that something really good is happening at Spurs even if as yet its unfulfilled in terms of actual success.Now imagine if we faced the situation Liverpool are in today?,well we pretty much did last year ,and what a difference a year makes.For Klopp to get Liverpool to where Tottenham are this minute will take epic proportions of hard work,skill,luck and if they start on what must be termed a “road to recovery”,how long until they believe as a club,team and support as we do?,not just say it,not just wish it but truly believe?
Think about that,and then think how remarkable it is that Maurico Pochettino has brought us to that place/state of mind,let alone second place.in such a relatively short period of time.
Part one;project belief : accomplished
Part two;project succeed :in progress
“Belief is the most important word. If we believe, anything can happen.
For me, historically Tottenham is one of the biggest clubs in England. It is not a surprise we are in a good position. But it is better not to speak too much, only to work hard.”