Pochettino should be more like Fergie or Mourinho if he wants to win a trophy at Tottenham

The Republik of Mancunia writer has some questions of the Spurs boss after he seemed to dismiss the value of winning the League Cup…


Had someone told me 10 years ago that one of my favourite nights as a Manchester United supporter would be watching the team win the Europa League I would never have believed them.

Having been spoilt with success during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, the idea that winning Europe’s lesser trophy could ever bring so much happiness would have been totally lost on me.

That’s not the say that the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup wasn’t a fantastic evening for United fans, but that was when we were on our way back up to the top. Having won the European Cup twice since then, and a shedload of league titles, lifting the Europa League could only signal how far the club had fallen back down.

Yet in May, on the back of Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goals against Ajax, I was fairly delirious. The booze likely aided me, as did the emotions of the terrorist attack days earlier, but I was absolutely over the moon to watch our players lift Europe’s secondary trophy.

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Pouring out in to the streets afterwards, a stone’s throw away from where the attack had taken place, bouncing around with a load of reds, chanting “Manchester la la la!” on repeat, ranks highly among some of my best memories following football.

I can only imagine how the supporters and players in Stockholm felt. In the dressing room, they echoed the fans’ songs, in what was a great night for the club and city of Manchester. Do you think any of us cared that it was only the Europa League? We didn’t.

Yet Mauricio Pochettino, the manager of United’s next opponents Tottenham Hotspur, has repeatedly dismissed the value of winning anything other than the Premier League or Champions League.

When you’re reminded that Pochettino has never won a trophy in his nine-year career as a manager, it’s easier to understand where his stance comes from. He doesn’t know what it feels like and he doesn’t know the impact silverware can have on a team.

“I need to explain what it means to win a trophy,” he said in August. “I want to win the Premier League… Sometimes you can win the League Cup because of the draw. Or the Europa League because the big clubs are more focused on other competitions. Sorry, with full respect, to win a trophy, for me, is to win the Premier League, or the Champions League.”

What Pochettino appears to be unaware of is how important a taste of success can be for a team and how winning a lesser trophy can be used as a catalyst for further success.

Ferguson reflected on the “fantastic night” in Rotterdam in 1991 and claimed victory that night was “a major step forward” for the club.

After a couple of barren seasons, Gary Neville discussed the “massive victory” of United beating Wigan in the League Cup final in 2006.

“That success taught young players like Wayne Rooney, for whom it was his first trophy, what it was like to win,” Neville said. “I would argue that it was the springboard to the most dominant period in the club’s history. Being on the podium is a drug. Having a medal put round your neck and running round a stadium with the Cup is addictive.”

Neville went on to say that he’s had several “greatest nights of his life” and all of them have followed winning a cup final. Pochettino seems to be underestimating how much players and supporters enjoy winning things.

Spurs have won three trophies in the past 25 years. How can he think those supporters aren’t desperate to see Harry Kane with his mitts on some silverware, when London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea win trophy-after-trophy?

Granted, you wouldn’t watch your team playing in the EFL Cup final with the same anticipation and excitement of the Champions League final, yet that doesn’t change the fact it feels bloody brilliant to celebrate a cup final goal and watch your players dance around on the pitch with the trophy afterwards.

Ahead of Saturday’s game against United, Pochettino has again reiterated his desire to help Spurs win “real trophies”, turning his nose up at anything that isn’t the Premier League or Champions League.

Yet as someone who has been blessed to grow up supporting a team that has won loads of trophies, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at any of our cup glories. Whether it’s watching the final in the front room with your family, down the pub with your mates in town, or inside Wembley or any other stadium.

It’s not the taking part that counts, it’s the winning, and I wouldn’t swap celebrating any of United’s trophies for finishing second in the league and going potless.

That’s from the perspective of a mere fan too, so you can only imagine the euphoria that comes with being a player on the winning side.

The fact that Pochettino is so dismissive of certain trophies might go some way to explaining why he’s never won anything, and why managers who value the importance of success wherever they can find it, like Jose Mourinho and Ferguson, have spent their careers winning league titles.

If he’s wise, Pochettino should take a leaf out of their book, and trust the methods of serial winners.

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What do you think?