There has always been a shadow in north London. However, it no longer resides over White Hart Lane and is fast moving in the direction of the Emirates Stadium. Tottenham have long been viewed as the annoying, younger sibling of Arsenal, with the Gunners being the more successful, better looking and well-liked older brother. However, like all younger siblings, they grow up, and boy have they done that under Mauricio Pochettino.
The former Southampton manager has White Hart Lane purring in a way that it never has before, which is impressive when you consider the Champions League campaign that included the world-class trio of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart.
We are at a time where many are saying that Arsene Wenger is the last of his kind in terms of longevity, but Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur may very well have something to say about that.
Pochettino has a style of management that sees players thrive under him, with Harry Kane being the obvious answer. However, it is Danny Rose who is Pochettino’s greatest achievement with the left-back now no longer an error-prone, nervous embarrassment but instead, reliably solid at the back and a real threat going forward. Now, read that sentence back and replace Pochettino and Rose for Wenger and Ashley Cole.
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Poch also has a style that teaches old dogs new tricks, with Mousa Dembele reforming himself from the frustrating central midfielder whose good games didn’t outweigh his bad ones to a real driving force in the middle of the park. He’s something of an unsung hero this season for the Lilywhites.
You’ve then got the younger players who are kicking on in a way that didn’t seem possible; Dele Alli and Eric Dier are close to being first-team regulars for England and Pochettino deserves a huge amount of credit for that, just like Wenger does for his management of youngsters such as Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin.
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Relentless, energetic and powerful across the whole starting XI, this Tottenham team have banished the weak-minded and feeble demons of the club’s yesteryears and have redefined what ‘typical Spurs’ means for the better.
Chasing lost causes, bossing possession and high intensity up the field when without the ball, a playing style not too dissimilar to that of Arsene Wenger’s 1996-2004 sides.
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I can feel the comments already being written: “Poch is better than Wenger, you prick” and “Why would we want Poch to be like Wenger?” But the very fact that Spurs fans are still talking about the Frenchman some 20 years later of failing to finish above Arsenal says it all
The resemblances are uncanny from playing style, how the players respond, how the pair conduct themselves in press conferences and, most importantly, how each manager has revolutionised their respective clubs.
Spurs fans have time and time again hoped that they’d found their Wenger – honestly, though, Tottenham, Juande Ramos, really?! – but they’ve been letdown or disappointed in one way or another. But now? Now they’ve got him and they’ve potentially got the man that Arsenal will be looking for in 20 years, with the Gunners faithful asking: ‘Where’s our Pochettino?’
Leicester are pretty much home and dry which, despite an impressive season for Spurs, highlights that there’s still a lot of work to be done this summer for Spurs. The most important thing isn’t to tie Pochettino down to a long-term contract (because we all know contracts mean jack shit) but it’s to continue to allow Poch to take Spurs into this new, exciting era without any distractions, issues or restraints. Is Levy capable of that?