Mauricio Pochettino is under no illusions. As manager of Tottenham he knows he must play winning football. And with the legacy of the likes Hoddle and Ardiles and Bale and Modric still woven into the very fabric of the club, he must try to do it the right way too.
But for Pochettino, whose team face Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime looking to once again close the gap on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, that right way means building from within.
“It's a big pressure to win when you are a big club,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “But I think for me the best example in football in many years was Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson and what he created with young talent from the academy or from England, which created the core of a team that won everything. That is a good example for me.”
It certainly seems Pochettino is heeding that example. Dele Alli’s nomination for PFA Young Player of the Year is yet another shot in the arm for one of the finest youth set-ups around. Should he win it’ll be Spurs’ fourth in five years after Kyle Walker, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane and Alli himself a season ago. Make no mistake, Tottenham are a club on the rise and, Pochettino believes, one who are doing so because they’re willing to take a chance on this country's best and brightest where others are not.
“I think it is one of the good clubs for young players. Tottenham today are showing a big belief and faith in young players,” he says of his home of the last two and a half years after leaving Southampton, another in the Premier League who know the true value of youth.
“Tottenham is not the only club in England that believes in young players but I think it is one of the best few clubs that believes and for young players it is a perfect club to develop their game and we have had success in the league.
“From day one when we arrived at Southampton we always said to you, the fans, the coaches that the most important thing was to show belief and faith in the young talent in England. It is true it is sometimes easier to look outside your country.
“It is the same in Spain 25 years ago. I remember I arrived there and it was different because there wasn’t the European Union. Only you could play with three foreign players. But the coaches’ idea for all was that the talent was out of Spain.
“After a few months I say I think you have the talent here. The problem is to show you have faith and believe. In England it is the same. One of our challenges in the last four years was to show the English people that the talent exists here.
“I think Southampton and Tottenham are showing if you believe and work and spend time that they have the same talent as in Argentina, Spain and Brazil. It is all about belief.”
The new Tottenham way is by no means the easy way. Spurs’ rivals for the title, Chelsea, spent well over £100million last summer. Other contenders around them spent vast amounts more. Pochettino is a realist and understands the temptation of preying on other leagues and clubs who must sell to survive, but the Argentine is happy to zig when the world zags, even if that means working from dawn until dusk to do it.
“Here, to bring players 17, 18 or 19 or your own players through the academy when you have money to go in different markets, that is only if you are a little bit crazy like we are, that we in believe in younger players and discovering the talent.
“Thankfully we have a very good academy and people like John McDermott. They give them the possibility to play one day in the first team. That is about commitment with the club and giving the possibility to work and then you must show big belief and faith because the easier thing is to bring in players.
“We spend 12 hours here for different reasons but one of the reasons is that.” If Dele Alli is anything to go by then it’s time well spent.Reuse content