Mauricio Pochettino has been talking about his hopes for his next job, six months after leaving Tottenham Hotspur, and admits it would be difficult to leave England.
The 48-year-old’s gardening leave at Tottenham ended on May 19 and now he is free to enter the next phase of his managerial career.
He had been linked with both Manchester United and Newcastle United in recent months and his former Spurs left-back Danny Rose said this week that he believes Pochettino will end up at the Manchester club.
Pochettino admits he is hungry to get back into management after this time out of the game and the recent shutdown of the sport and much of the country.
“After six months, our tanks are completely full. Of course we have suffered with everything that is going on, this unbelievable situation that we are living,” he said.
“There is not a manual that can tell you how you need to behave in this situation. But at the same time as the suffering, I have tried with my coaching staff to review everything that we did in the last seven years [in England] because we never had a break until now.
“It has been an amazing time to review everything, to start to organise again our ideas to plan the future, to try to compete better, to try to learn from our experience and of course looking forward for the next job because that is very dynamic.
“Football is very dynamic and you need to be ready for the moment when the offer appears, the new chapter in your professional life.”
The Argentine and his coaching staff, including Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Toni Jiminez, have been using virtual conferencing to prepare for the next challenge.
“We analyse through Zoom, this platform where we can connect, and it seems like we are very connected and we can talk in a good way over it,” he explained.
“It’s been amazing to share our ideas, to watch a lot of training sessions, games, to review our methodology, our models of training, to design specific and collective works with the team in all the different aspects.
“Of course to try again to design and to adapt for the new normality. To see how things are going to be in the future and to be ready for any eventuality, because the demands are going to be completely different.”
Pochettino is looking for the perfect job to take on next after almost six years as an employee at Spurs.
“Always, you dream of the perfect club. The perfect project,” he admitted.
“It’s difficult to discover until the project is not [what is put] on the table. It’s difficult to assess. From outside, it’s difficult to measure the capacity of the clubs, the capacity of the players, the squad.
“You need to share ideas in the moment that some club approaches you and start to talk. To try to find if the project is a good fit or not. It’s so important in this moment, when the reality comes, to try to talk.
“But from outside, it’s so difficult to assess the clubs, the people, the players. You need to be very respectful because sometimes the temptation is to talk a lot from outside, to analyse teams, to analyse individual performances, chairmen, staff, fans.
“It’s so important to show the respect because until you are in, and you start to work and to share ideas and try to build a philosophy, it’s so difficult to see how the people behave and to see how it will be possible. Also, there is the pace of the project [to consider].”
Does Pochettino’s next project need to be a prestigious club that provides an easy road to silverware?
“Today we are going to live a completely different era in football that we need to discover,” he said.
“It’s difficult to know what project is going to be the right project. There are many things, at the moment, that we have in our minds about how things are going to be after this virus hopefully disappears, but how are these clubs or companies, because that’s what they are, going to be?
“It’s a big question mark. That’s why it’s so difficult. We are a coaching staff that are open to listen to all the projects, all the people.
“We are learning and sharing ideas. You never know when it’s going to be the motivation or the inspiration to say ‘Oh, they are the right people’, and you want to be with them or their club.
“We are very receptive to listen to all the people because every single conversation we can learn from and maybe we can see a motivation to go with them.”
Pochettino has admitted frequently that he considers the Premier League to be the best competition in football.
“Of course in my mind, I’m very open to wait for the seduction of the project rather than the country,” he said.
“It’s about the club and of course the people, the human dimension, maybe you can stick with people that you are going to enjoy working with.
“We are so open. Of course we love England, and the Premier League. We feel very good here. We are still living here in London. I am not going change [my feelings] now because I am not involved in the Premier League, because I am no longer the Tottenham manager, I am not going to change my vision.
“I still think the Premier League is the best league in the world. We enjoy it a lot. Of course, it’s one of the options. Of course, it can be my priority but I am not closed to move to a different country.”
However, Pochettino admits that his circumstances at home make it slightly more difficult to take on a job abroad.
“We are living here in London. We have our house and our home here. We feel very good for the future in this country,” he said.
“People are very respectful. Football is so exciting. It’s difficult to move to Barcelona [to his other home during the lockdown] and then there are my kids
“Maurizio is playing for Tottenham, Sebastiano has a girlfriend here in London. The family is moving around here in London. At the moment my idea is to stay here, live in London – me, myself and my family.”
He added: “Yes, yes, yes. It’s going to be difficult [to take a job in another country] but not impossible.
“We are professional and we are going to find a way to create again and to feel good. If we do change the country, always we are going to miss England.
“We spend more than seven years in two amazing places in Southampton and London. We are very lucky people.”
Becoming a manager elsewhere also throws up the possibility of Pochettino taking on Tottenham as the boss of the opposition.
“Well, it might never happen or maybe it happens quick, you never know,” he said. “But like when it happened when we played against Southampton it’s going to be special, for sure.
“However, it’s going to be a game that we’d try to win as the professionals that we are. Of course, with all my respect for the club, the people and the fans. It would be special to come back to Tottenham.”
The subject of trophies will always be one that comes up when Pochettino’s name is mentioned.
For all of the progress made at Spurs under the Argentine, taking them to four consecutive top four finishes, challenging twice for the Premier League title and reaching a historic Champions League final, he is yet to win a major piece of silverware as a manager.
Is that an important objective for him at his next club?
“It depends on the project. When we arrived to Tottenham, it was very clear [that the priority was to get into the top four],” he said.
“Of course, when I was at Espanyol, I wanted to win trophies and when I moved to Southampton I wanted to win trophies. The same at Tottenham.
“The difference is the reality. Look at [Claudio] Ranieri. He won his first title at Leicester when he was nearly at the end of his career.
“The people can say he wasn’t a successful coach, people can measure successful people in different ways.
“It’s easy to say ‘Oh, this guy won a lot of titles and this guy didn’t win’, but the problem is that we are not a coaching staff that started at Bayern Munich.
“If you start your career at Bayern Munich, it’s completely different to if you start your career at Nuremberg, with all respect to Nuremberg.
“You win a title with Nuremberg, it’s going to be more difficult than at Bayern Munich. If we talk like this, then 90 per cent of coaches in the world are losers.
“That’s because in Spain, there is only Barcelona, Real Madrid, maybe England is different but in Italy and Germany and France – in France, Paris St-Germain dominate the league.
“Coaches are not thinking only about winning titles. It’s many things that are around. You find the motivation and the capacity to chose the right project.”
With the coronavirus changing the shape of the world with every passing month, what does Pochettino believe football will look like after the pandemic ends?
“It’s not easy to imagine how it will look, whether everything will go back to the normality that we had before, that we have in our minds,” he admitted.
“There are massive, massive questions. Are we going to be able to work as we did in the past? Our responsibility as football people, we need to give an example with our behaviour.
“Obviously, we feel the pain and shock for how it has affected people, when it has touched them very closely. With Pep Guardiola, for example. I sent him a message after his mum passed away.”
On the future safety of football he added: “All the controls and protocols that the clubs are going to implement, I think it’s going to be a very safe place to be, to train, to work. It’s going to help the people to look forward.
“Of course there has been pain, that’s going to be there, but we can’t stop life, and not only life, there is a responsibility to the business, how we need to protect it for the future.
“There are a lot of people involved. My worry is not only how the virus is scaring people and making them suffer, it’s how it’s going to affect us if we don’t have the capacity to move on again and to help make peoples’ lives easier.”
“I think Germany is a good example, to see how it’s working over there. I was listening to an interview of the CEO of the Bundesliga, [Christian] Seifert, and he said that football was helping the people to move on and to change the mood.
“We demand a lot from our fans when we are involved in games, we say we need the energy of the fans, now it’s our responsibility to make the effort.
“I’m not saying I am not sensible about it, but I think we need to try to be brave now and try to face the situation.
“Football is the happiness of the people, millions and millions of fans. Once there is football on TV, a lot of people change their energy.
“It’s going to be a massive effort, from the players, the staff, all the people but it’s similar to the effort of people who are working – of course, the NHS, and the people that are working in the supermarket, in the pharmacy, on the farms providing us with food.
“We need to show solidarity. We need to accept that we are going to work in a very safe environment, that the protocols are going to be there to protect us.”
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The financial landscape of football and the Premier League is expected to change, with teams losing millions even if the season can be resumed.
Pochettino was asked whether the English top flight would be a very different place financially to how it was.
“I don’t know because in the last six months, I didn’t have too many chats with Daniel [Levy], although I did talk to him last week.
“Of course all the people in football are worried because there is going to be a natural adjustment.
“It’s impossible that it’s not going to affect the clubs and, first of all, the people that work there – the staff, and of course the players and the coaches. Yes, it’s a thing that’s going to affect everyone.
“No-one is going to be out of this situation, but I don’t know how it will affect, whether it will change 90 per cent, 50 per cent, I don’t know.
“How the clubs were financially when it all happened is going to be key to how they recover when they start to work again.”