November 3 – One year after he was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur despite transforming the club into regular Champions League participants and even reaching the final in 2019, Mauricio Pochettino admits he was “disappointed and upset” but holds no grudges and is waiting for the right moment to return to the game.
Pochettino made a rare appearance in the Sky Sports studio as a pundit for Monday night’s Leeds-Leicester game and was inevitably asked at length about both his immediate past and his future.
“After one year, I can say that I was disappointed, a little bit upset and not happy,” the Argentine said.
“This was a club that after five-and-a-half years the relationship was massive with the staff, the players and the fans. I am not going to lie.
“But at some point I understand very well this is football. The stadium, in our period, our chapter, the club had to change. But I am not going to complain about the club, about the decision of [chairman Daniel Levy]. We still have a very good relationship.”
Pochettino was fired even though the Premier League success he built at Tottenham (runner-up once and third twice) was achieved with little player investment in contrast to the big-money signings the club has made under his successor, Jose Mourinho.
“We had the facility to build something special but at the end, when the expectation is so high, you need to win,” he explained.
“You need something concrete, something important. Win a title. Premier League and Champions League, we were close. But we did not. Everyone knows what happened in the end but I think it was an amazing journey that we enjoyed a lot. We only feel sad that we could not provide to the club and the fans a trophy because this group of players deserve to be recognised with a trophy.”
The Argentine said he wished he could have won the league title “to put the cherry on the top of the cake” but insisted he was not bitter.
“I hope in the future it will be possible to win a trophy in the future with Jose because it would be amazing for the fans and this group of players, the majority of whom were with us. The man who replaced me is a good friend. A manager who always treated me very well. I know Jose and want the best for him.”
Pochettino, 48, has been without a club since leaving Spurs and has been heavily linked both with Manchester United, whose stuttering form has put pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and Real Madrid.
“I need to wait for the right project. I will not close any door,” he said. “My energy is full … but at the same time I need to understand that it is a good moment to wait.”
He also hinted that the Covid-19 pandemic was playing a part in his decision making.
“It’s a tough, tough moment. I don’t feel it is one year that I’m not working. With no fans in the stadium, it’s like it’s not football. We are watching a similar game but it’s not the passion there, it’s not the emotion there, and that sometimes [consoles] you.
“If you feel the crowd shouting and the emotion, and you go to watch the game in the stadium, maybe you say, ‘ah I want to battle with your team facing an opponent’. But at the moment it’s like you watch from TV, from your home… it’s strange. A difficult time for everyone.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org