Mauricio Pochettino. What a season he has had. Tottenham are just behind league leaders and are not willing to give the title away to Leicester without a fight. With just 5 more matches to go, Tottenham are second in the table and 7 points behind Leicester City and 6 points ahead of 3rd placed Arsenal. Whatever be the result at the end of the season, one thing that has to be accepted is that Tottenham have played some delightful football this season. Any football fan would have enjoyed the kind of performances Tottenham has provided this season. It has been exciting and they have hardly produced a boring performance in any match. The most recent being the performance against Manchester United, where they scored 3 goals in the space of 5 minutes and 45 seconds. While the good performers in the team take away all the praises, we should also thank the man who has made this Tottenham side look so formidable at times.
So what is it that he did at Tottenham to make them such a formidable side? What is the secret to his success in this year’s EPL? We have a closer look at two such factors that might just be the secret that Pochettino used to get success in the current season.
Playing the right man in the right role-
If you follow Pochettino’s managerial tactics closely you’ll find that he somehow always fits a player to a role. He is one such manager who doesn’t prefer to do much experimentation and normally sticks to basics. When he finds a talent, he first assesses the qualities of that player and then tries and finds where that player would suit the best in the team. Then accordingly, he sits and explains him what is expected of him. One recent example would be one of the star performers of this season, Eric Dier, Even though the tall man is deployed in the defensive midfield role and has excelled there, his favourite playing position is that of a centre back. Dier is a huge fan of the centre back role and wanted to play in defense for the London club as well. But it was Pochettino who sat with the young lad and explained him that the central defensive midfield role is the one that would be the best for him. And wasn’t he right? Another example would be that of Dele Alli. Initially, the man was played in central midfield and was quite good in that role. But when Pochettino saw that Alli was a fast midfielder who likes to link up with attackers and also has an eye on goal, he immediately moved the youngster in attacking midfield. And since then Alli has excelled even more. Alli can be played anywhere in the midfield. In the absence of Eriksen, he plays just behind the striker and in the presence of Eriksen, he either plays on the right or left of the Danish International. And Since moving up in the midfield, Alli has become one of the contenders for the PFA Young players of the season.
High-pressing attacking football is one which Pochettino prefers. The Argentine is a fan of the 4-2-3-1 formation and normally builds his team based on quick players who can run all day long. Pochettino believes that an attack should start from the very back. That is why Alderweireld has been one of the best ball-playing center halves of this season. Pochettino’s plan is simple. He asks his defenders to create an attack, then asks his midfielders to move the ball in quick fashion and then asks his attackers to have a sudden outburst at the opponent goal and go and settle in a place in the opponent’s box where they can receive a pass from the midfield. This sudden movement is one that unsettles the opponent team and they are caught out in possession sometimes. Pochettino looks like a man who has followed the premier league matches of yesteryears and has derived that success mantra in EPL is to play fast paced attacking football. I personally believe the way to success in the EPL is to have a high pressing team who is always more on the attack and believes in winning games by pressing the opponent with attack after attack. The possession form of football is something that normally doesn’t seem to be the most successful one in English football. Be it the Manchester United under SAF or the Arsenal in the early 2000’s, they were all teams who believed that fast paced attacking football is the way to win games. Even in the current season, table toppers Leicester and the recent Liverpool under Klopp are teams that have achieved a lot of success by following the fast paced way.
The above-discussed factors seem to be the way that Pochettino has derived success in the current season. And if he follows the same strategy and builds upon it next year, then I wouldn’t be surprised if they go ahead and achieve greater success.