Dustin Menno (Cartilage Free Captain)
Dear Bayern fans,
So you have a manager to hire and you’re Pochettino-curious? Congratulations! As of Tuesday there is one slightly-used Pochettino on the market, available at a cut-rate price. You’re probably wondering what you might be getting yourselves into should you make an approach for him ahead of this summer. Speaking as a still shell-shocked Tottenham Hotspur fan, here are a few things you should probably know.
Mauricio Pochettino is first and foremost a project manager. He’s very good at building a culture at a football club that may be struggling with its identity. Pochettino is loyal, almost to a fault, and expects the same loyalty back from his players. He is media savvy and always protects his players, protecting them from public criticism even when it’s obvious they have made mistakes. He never throws players under the bus and stands as a shield between them and the media. It’s admirable.
Poch plays with a tactical identity that can vary in the details but in broad strokes includes selective pressing, swift movement, and fast attacks when regaining the ball. The best Tottenham teams under Pochettino had medium-high defensive blocks, stout defensive midfielders with strength on the ball to progress through the midfield, progressive fullbacks who can get forward (and back) quickly, and wide midfielders that like to cut inside and are positionally flexible.
With Pochettino, you’ll also get a manager who is fanatical about fitness, loves developing young players, and requires substantial roster turnover in order to keep his squads fresh and happy. Give him the freedom to mold the team in his image, a viable scouting network, and the funds to purchase his players, and he will be an excellent manager of any large European club, and he will definitely win silverware.
Pochettino isn’t perfect, by any means. The flip side of his warmth and loyalty is that he’s stubborn as hell, both tactically and with regards to interactions with club ownership. His substitution patterns are at times baffling. It often seems as though he doesn’t have a plan B [editor: sound familiar?]. He will often have his favorite players that he will turn to over and over because they’re “his guys” even if they’re not playing well [editor: *cough, cough Coutinho*].
And when things aren’t going very well, he gets surly and slightly combative. One of the lowlights of the end of his Spurs tenure was watching him work out his disagreements with chairman Daniel Levy in the media. The end of his tenure was telegraphed, though nobody wanted to believe it at the time.
Pochettino is also notoriously picky with regards to player transfers. There are numerous reports over the past five years of Poch discarding potential (good!) targets simply because he was being overly choosy about players that fit his tactical profile. It’s unclear whether he would work well with a director of football because he likes to have complete control, but he often has disagreements over what that means with regards to club policy.
Finally — and this is really Bayern-specific — he doesn’t speak German and would insist on bringing his full backroom staff along with him (Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino, Toni Jimenez), which he has had since his Southampton days. He would need a translator until he learns German, which will probably take a few years. I understand that’s been a deal-breaker in years past.
Pochettino is an amazing manager. The cons here do not outweigh the pros in my opinion, and I’m still grieving the fact that he’s no longer managing Tottenham. Some big-time club — Manchester United, Real Madrid, PSG, etc. — is going to end up with him at the helm by the time this is all said and done, and he’s going to do amazing things with a big budget and full buy-in. Wouldn’t you rather it was Bayern?
Logan Chuggs (BFW)
Mauricio Pochettino would be in an entirely new situation, different from what he has ever experienced before, if he were to take the job at Bayern. However, I think that he could do a good job.
Pochettino’s coaching style should compliment Bayern well. He generally uses a high-pressing, play-out-of-the-back 4-2-3-1 that reminds me Bayern’s style under Jupp Heynckes. He also has experience coaching the only number 9 in the world that comes close to Lewandowski at the moment: Harry Kane. Pochettino’s attacking style of offense would benefit Lewandowski.
Pochettino is also often lauded for his efforts in developing youth. Kane, Dele Ali, and Huong-Min Son among others were all fairly young when they began under Pochettino. They have all developed nicely into their roles and provide a lot of value to the club. With an academy system like Bayern’s, this trend could continue.
But there also are some downsides to Pochettino. Last season, he infamously said that Tottenham was just a top-four team in the Premier League, and that trophies don’t matter as long as they qualified for the Champions League. If he has a similar attitude in Bayern, he won’t last very long. Fans just would not accept him unless his goal is to win the treble every year.
Also, while his relationships with the players have mostly been good, Pochettino was seemingly forced out because he failed to get his players to perform as they did last season, when they made it to the Champions League final. His players seemed burned out, and Pochettino could do nothing about it. Although he only ever finished as a runner-up during his time at Tottenham (League Cup, Premier League, Champions League), he has found success in Europe, something that Bayern has struggled with since winning the treble in 2013. For what its worth, I say bring him in!
Pochettino is one of Europe’s most tactically sound coaches, and he’s made Tottenham a title contender for virtually every season. The thing that attracts me the most is the fact that Poch has worked on a youthful squad and made them gel, eventually becoming a well-oiled machine, all without starry transfers every season. Tottenham’s spending is a lot like Bayern’s; his ability to work with a conservative budget could prove very beneficial to a responsible, financially sound club like Bayern.
Pochettino also focuses on player fitness and has ensured that Tottenham’s squad boasts some of the healthiest, fittest players in all of Europe. His possession-based attacking style of football would also suit Bayern perfectly, but for his inconsistent results.
With Tottenham, Pochettino come close to a title on several occasions, but he has never managed to seal the deal in the end. He reached the Champions League final last year on the back of some amazing performances, but the calibre of opponents Tottenham faced might also be taken into account, and we all saw how they buckled against Liverpool in the final.
This raises concern, especially for me, along with the fact that he doesn’t speak German — at least to my knowledge. I’m not sure I see this move happening, but if it does, he is definitely a great manager and could give us a decent, if not a great shot at the Champions League in particular.