This week, one of our regular posters, Luckydestiny decided to write a lengthy post on Pochettino and his spell at Spurs which makes for an interesting read.
The conversations on the Maureen out thread got me thinking about Poch’s time at Spurs a little more deeply than I have previously. I always held the opinion that he was untouchable as manager of Spurs, but that was mainly informed by my patronising perspective of Spurs, I mean who could do better with that lot right? They would be crazy to sack him wouldn’t they?
Well since he has been sacked I have started to look at things a little more objectively and I am coming to the conclusion that Pochettino is simply a decent manager, because all the research I do into Spurs pre Poch and spurs post Poch simply flies right in the face of any ideas that he is a great or special coach. I don’t mean this to belittle Poch or Spurs fans, being a decent premier league coach is not an insult by any stretch when you understand the context here.
To start with, I looked at the results achieved by Poch in his 202 PL games and compared to the results Spurs achieved in the 202 games prior to Poch:
Spurs in prem under Pochettino:P-202-W-113-D-43-L-46-POINTS-382
Spurs in prem before poch (prev 202 games):P-202-W-106-D-47-L-48-POINTS-365
These results do not for one minute suggest Pochettino did an extraordinary job at spurs. All they show is an increase of 17 points over a massive 202 games, which in terms of points per game translates to an increase from the 1.81 averaged over the 202 games prior to Poch to 1.89 in the 202 games under Poch. That is an increase but enough to be considered one of the worlds great coaches? I don’t think so.
Compare this to the difference in results at pool Pre Klopp vs With Klopp:
Pool with Klopp in Prem league : P157-W98-D39-L20-POINTS-333
Pool for the 157 before Klopp : P157-W75-D39-L43-POINTS-264
So Klopp achieved a much greater gain in points over a considerably shorter period, 69 over just 157 games. This translates to an increase in points per game from 1.68 pre-Klopp to 2.12 with Klopp. This is much more like it and is a level of improvement that really does justify Klopp being considered one of the best.
I will understand some may argue here that Klopp has spent more, but spending is only useful as a way of comparing relative squad strengths so we can determine relative expectations. Truth is spurs didn’t need the level of investment Pool did. Poch had a lot to do with it but if you compare the squad Poch had at the time to the Pool team Klopp inherited it was obvious pool would need investment to come close to spurs and I would also argue that up until the summer of 2018 spurs had the better squad, even now I think pools is only marginally better.
So if Poch didn’t do much better in PL than Spurs were already doing in terms of points, what else could there be to give him special credit for?
To this question I am sure some of you will say “Pochettino turned Spurs into a regular top 4 team without spending as much as his rivals”
This is the argument that always won me over, but after looking in to things I have changed my mind on this, and I will explain.
Firstly we need to remember that money spent is not the main thing to consider, it is the strength of the squad Poch has relative to his rivals, that’s what determines whether he has punched above his weight to a considerable degree. I would argue without hesitation that Poch has had a better squad than Utd and Arsenal for years, and if you take them away from the remaining top 4 rivals, the only teams left are City, Pool and Chelsea. 3 teams. Is it then that amazing to think that Poch finished top 4 regularly with at least the 4th best squad?
Consider the 1.81 points per game pre Poch to the 1.89 post Poch, intuitively you can see how spurs managed to finish top 4 regularly with only a slight improvement in the league, it is because the competition got weaker relative to Spurs during Poch’s tenure compared to the 5 years prior.
The stats suggest this, which is why I am now thinking like this. I looked at the points totals achieved by all the main top 4 rivals over the last 5 and a bit seasons up until poch was sacked and compared them to the results of the same teams over the 5 previous seasons when Spurs were not regularly qualifying for Champs league.
The stats in this regard are not overwhelming either.
For the 5 years before Poch they struggled to achieve Top 4 despite averaging 1.8 points per game. This was because during that period four of the other big 6 were outperforming them, and to be fair quite rightly too as City, Arsenal, Utd and Chelsea had better squads. This made it almost impossible for Spurs to finish 4th as there were always 4 teams better placed.
However, when you look at the period when Poch was in charge you see that Arsenal and Utd regressed massively to where they were pre Poch, Chelsea dropped too, but the drop is only minimal because the bad season are counter balanced by the title wins. This meant that with only a slight increase in points per game, spurs were now odds on for top 4 as while Liverpool overtook them, Arsenal and Utd moved backwards really fast and Chelsea had some terrible seasons too.
It seems clear to me that Spurs progress to regular CL qualification was more to do with their rivals dropping to their level, than spurs punching above their weight and rising up considerably themselves. If you have a look at the attached spreadsheet you can see how the challenge for Spurs to finish top 4 was easier for Poch than his predecessors.
He is no doubt a good coach, don’t get me wrong, but there are levels, and then there are levels. He is not in the elite category yet imo.
Read more and get involved in the debate at https://www.footydebate.com/community/topic/the-legacy-of-pochettino-whats-the-big-deal/