Paul Scholes: I like Mauricio Pochettino. He has confidence without arrogance

As part of his exclusive column for The Independent, Paul Scholes looks at Tottenham this season under Pochettino

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His team might have lost to Liverpool on Tuesday but the more I see of Mauricio Pochettino, the more I think he is the best young coach around.

What I like about Pochettino is the way that he looks in control. He is in control of his players, in control of the way that they play. He is confident without being arrogant and his team is playing with a great energy.

He had very little to spend in the summer and yet he improved the players that he inherited. He has a clear way of playing, the 4-2-3-1 formation, and from what I hear his squad’s fitness is a major part of the way he works. In that respect he takes them right up to the limit in training and they play the same way.

Not only that but he has been brave in picking younger players ahead of the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado and Paulinho. In Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason he has a very hard-working, solid midfield base. Ahead of them, the attacking three of Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembélé and Erik Lamela are given licence to rotate positions. In Harry Kane he has found himself a great centre-forward.

I recognise that Tim Sherwood gave a lot of these young players their first chance and Pochettino has shown the same faith in them. Mason and Bentaleb are both still relatively inexperienced in the Premier League, although they broke through relatively late in their careers, and at this stage they will make mistakes. They both did so against Liverpool in the first half. But they still offer a lot to the team.


Mason has caught my eye a lot this season. He can tackle, he is tactically disciplined and he kicks the ball cleanly with either foot. He gets about the pitch too. I understand he had a few loan spells and some injury problems before he made it as a regular with Spurs and his development has been overshadowed by Kane. But I see no reason why Mason should not be in the next senior England squad.

Kane goal.jpg
Harry Kane has scored 23 goals for Spurs this season

That brings us to Kane. You simply cannot argue with goals against teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Especially away at Liverpool. I think scoring for the away team at Anfield is still a litmus test for any striker who wants to call himself a goalscorer. Kane is not just picking up goals at home against teams in the bottom half of the table, he is scoring against the best and away from White Hart Lane too.

What makes him special? I have said before that he does not have a standout quality but scores highly across a number of categories. The more I watch him, the more I appreciate his temperament. Playing in attack is difficult. You are under scrutiny and you have to be able to deal with that. Kane seems to do it easily.

Take Tuesday night. Martin Skrtel is good at rattling the opposing centre-forward. He did it to a player as experienced as Diego Costa and got a reaction out of him. Yet Kane never reacted to Skrtel once, and never looked like doing so. Then, when the chance presented itself he was ruthless. I have said before his finishing reminds me of Ruud van Nistelrooy. The thing about Ruud was he never wanted to give the goalkeeper a sniff of saving it. Kane is the same.

Ryan Mason (left) has also excelled for Spurs this term

From the outside, Spurs have always seemed a turbulent club. They are either on Cloud Nine or near the bottom of the league. What Pochettino has brought is a calm. He has shown respect to the players he has left out and carried along with him those youngsters who broke through under Sherwood.

On top of that, I hear he takes time to watch the youth teams and the Under-21s play. I cannot tell you how important that is. Modern managers have a lot of demands on them and many feel, with justification, that they do not have the time to commit to watching the junior sides. But it makes such a difference to the mood at a club when the first-team manager knows every youngster by name. The manager I played under did.

Read this week's full column here - Scholes is scathing in his criticism of Manchester United, who are playing 'miserable' football this season.