Last April, Mauricio Pochettino revealed that during his first-ever meeting with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy, he was given the target of delivering the club Champions League football in his fifth season once a move into a new stadium had been completed.
Monday marked Pochettinos fifth anniversary in charge of Spurs – an inordinate amount of time in the cut-throat world of 21st-century football management – yet celebrations over reaching that particular milestone have had to be put to one side. Pochettino and Spurs have far more pressing matters to attend to.
According to Levys projected five-year plan, Spurs should have just achieved their first top-four finish under Pochettino having moved into their shiny new home earlier this year. In reality, the club are preparing for an inaugural Champions League final in their third successive season in the competition.
At 8pm on Saturday evening, Pochettino will take his place in the home dugout of Atletico Madrids Wanda Metropolitano stadium to watch his side take on Jurgen Klopps Liverpool in the biggest game in club football.
That Spurs have managed to get this far in the competition given all of their issues this season, makes it all the more remarkable. Spurs didnt sign a single player last summer or in January, their move into the new stadium was delayed until April and they have had to contend with numerous injuries to key players throughout the campaign.
The manner in which Spurs have reached this point has been equally extraordinary. Only a dramatic turnaround in fortunes enabled Spurs to progress from their group after they took just one point from their opening three matches.
A relatively comfortable two-legged affair against Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 has been the outlier in an otherwise chaotic, nerve-shredding European campaign. A VAR intervention in the 93rd minute saw them progress at the expense of Manchester City in the quarters, while Lucas Mouras 96th-minute winner sent them beyond Ajax and into the final.
Football supporters are renowned for being a superstitious group and some have viewed Spurs miraculous run to the final as an omen that the stars have aligned to make it their year. Even so, Spurs approach Saturdays match distinctly second-favourites to last years runners-up Liverpool.
Both clubs have been on a relatively even keel during the respective managerial tenures of Pochettino and Klopp, yet as a points difference in the Premier League of 26 points attests, Liverpool have moved ahead of Spurs this season following savvy recruitment in the transfer market.
While Pochettinos hands have been tied, Klopp was handed a generous budget to sign his top targets with Virgil Van Dijk (£75m) and Alisson (£67m) becoming the worlds most expensive players in their positions when moving to Anfield. Between them, Van Dijk and Alisson have elevated a very good team to an outstanding one.
A combination of Spurs lack of investment and the quality of their opponents emphasises the idea that a victory on Saturday would mark the pinnacle in the clubs history. Spurs are without a trophy in 11-years and havent even been in a European final since 1984. This squad are entering into unchartered territory and this could genuinely represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It has given validation to Pochettinos argument that only the Premier League and Champions League are real trophies. It is intriguing, therefore, to speculate what comes next once the final whistle has been sounded in Madrid on Saturday night.
Win or lose, Tottenhams profile as a club has been raised exponentially during this run which should theoretically make it easier to attract signings in the summer. Having not bought a player since Lucas in January 2018, Spurs will be busy in the upcoming window and their status as Champions League finalists, if not winners, could raise the quality of potential recruits.
It seems somewhat paradoxical to say given this team has reached a Champions League final but this Spurs squad needs an overdue revamp over the next couple of months. Pochettino himself has admitted as much, saying that painful decisions will be made in terms of who is kept on.
Spurs have enjoyed notable successes in the transfer market during his time in charge, most notably with the signings of Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son, but there have been plenty of poor signings too. Like Liverpool over the past few windows, Spurs mustRead More – Source