Tottenham Hotspur were the biggest losers in the Champions League last night, despite landing a 1-0 win in Dortmund to see them through to the quarter-finals in some style.
About 1,800 kilometres away from victorious splendour in Dortmund was a scene unfolding in Madrid. Much like in a film where one scene of seemingly eternal happiness gets faded out by a menacing soundtrack playing over an ominous subplot that will later hinder the protagonist.
Tottenham Hotspur is the sad protagonist and the impatience of the bank of Spain is looming large to the sound of lightbulbs turning on.
There are a couple of stars that are aligning in the skies above the Bernabeu, a sky that seems to be lending residual storm clouds in north London.
Real Madrid will forever be attracted to success and glamour – this is very much their modus operandi and features heavily in the branding of their club. I mean, their crest consists of a crown atop their initials.
The likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti are proven commodities, while nicking the Spanish manager just before a World Cup is very ‘their brand’.
But, how do they gauge themselves in a footballing sense when they consider themselves above the sport?
It’s difficult to analyse the job Mauricio Pochettino has done at Spurs. Given the players they have, they’re right where they should be – capitalising on new managers at Chelsea and Arsenal, while Manchester United hampered themselves by sacking ex-Madrid boss Mourinho far too late.
So in that regard, Pochettino isn’t a likely candidate to try his hand at Real Madrid.
But their result against Ajax and even more so, their performance, means that the board have little left to cling onto before accepting reform is the only way they’ll keep pace with Lionel Messi and Co – not just in the league, but almost as importantly, as a global brand.
For once, Pochettino is the kind of manager they will seek. Spurs will have a mountain to climb to keep hold of him given the countless false promises around a new stadium and a seemingly non-existent transfer budget.
No other manager in world football now is getting as much praise for a job done as Pochettino is. He has transformed a side who played average football leading to average final league positions, to a team on the coattails of two of the best sides to ever play in the Premier League.
He has transformed the mentality of the players and the style in which they’re going about their business would be soft on the eyes of the overly-negative spectators in Madrid.
This will be a long-term project, though. Madrid is only as successful as the players allow them to be.
The key to them is embracing the need for brilliance and the required arrogance to achieve it.
That can only come when he guts the Mardid dressing room of its foul characters, bringing in players that will stand up to that challenge. Pochettino would also need the time and backing to integrate those players into the league and the surroundings.
Harry Kane is currently the best striker in world football and there is no hope that Spurs will be keeping him from Madrid should Pochettino jump ship.
Given that they’ve struggled to replace Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals, Kane is one of a handful of players that they could conceivably sign and expect similar production from.
Mauricio Pochettino has the answers to all of Real Madrid’s problems – he just needs to be given the time to properly relay them.