In news that hardly comes as a surprise given previous comments, Mauricio Pochettino publically committed to Tottenham — and to not taking the Barcelona job.
Luis Enrique’s announcement at the beginning of March that he intends to move on from Barca at the end of the current term raised hairs on the neck of every Tottenham fan. Pochettino, they knew, would inevitably feature on the shortlist of managers set to replace the wildly successful Spaniard.
While it was certainly understandable why Barca — or any other club — might be interested in Pochettino’s services, it never appeared all that likely to happen.
None of which stopped rumors from persisting. Of particular interest lately was a lunch that occurred last week as Pochettino traveled to the city for the international break. The Guardian quoted Pochettino’s comments on the event.
"“It was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday. I know him [Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu] for a long time — before he became chairman of Barcelona. Our children went to the same school in Barcelona. We spent five minutes together. That was the reality. After that, you know the rumor is impossible to stop.”"
The rumor existed long before that chance encounter however. Even before Enrique’s shock announcement, Pochettino’s name was floated about as a possible successor. His response on Thursday merely elaborated on the one he gave when first confronted about those rumors in January.
"“I am an Espanyol supporter. I think I don’t think I need to speak too much. It’s like if one day, Daniel Levy sacked me — in a few years it would be impossible for me to manage Arsenal. In football, I know it is so difficult to keep your values and to be loyal — with your heart, with your emotion. But, for me, before being a manager, before being a player, being loyal is more important. I am an Espanyol fan. I love Espanyol. It’s like Tottenham for me now. It will be impossible, one day, to move to Arsenal. It will be impossible.”"
Having played for and managed Espaynol, Pochettino has no interest in leading their bitter local rivals. His loyalty to Tottenham is just as fierce, thereby removing him from any future considerations at Spurs’ own rivals Arsenal.
Such words come as sweet music to Tottenham fans’ ears, as well they should. Pochettino’s commitment to the project at Spurs is arguably its most important component. His managerial methods engender loyalty in his squad — as evidenced by the slew of contract renewals this season — and keep the club overall in an upward trajectory.
With a young squad that is already succeeding — they finished third last season and currently sit second — there is no telling the heights Pochettino can reach. There is virtually no reason for him to jump ship now as three years of work begins to pay off.