How Mauricio Pochettino Created An Unbreakable Bond With Tottenham Fans
The final whistle has long gone. Tottenham Hotspur are in the Champions League final. The fans have little chance of being let out of the stadium for quite some time, not that anybody is remotely keen to leave.
Mauricio Pochettino emerges again, having already lapped up their adoration for leading the club to one of the greatest achievements in their 137-year history. Soon he’s joined by his assistants, Jesus Perez, Toni Jimenez, and Miguel D’Agostino.
First, a rendition of his song, after which he leads the fans in a ‘viking clap’. He really is “magic”.
It is hard to think of a Tottenham manager in recent memory who has enjoyed such a bond with the supporters.
The trouble is, few of them have been around long enough. Martin Jol was probably the last universally popular Tottenham manager. Harry Redknapp was loved by many, especially those who at the time believed that anything other than a top-four finish was way beyond the Lilywhites’ reach.
Pochettino’s ability to dream is what has endeared him to the Spurs faithful. The Argentine took over a group of Europa League also-rans and transformed them into Champions League regulars, and now finalists.
It’s easy to say Spurs fans have ‘dreamed’ of a European Cup final. Speaking as one, I have never, ever envisaged the possibility that they would be just 90 minutes away from lifting the most coveted trophy in club football.
Pochettino must take full credit for pushing those boundaries and looking, in his own words which he seems to have adopted as a catchphrase of late, “to infinity and beyond”.
Where millions around the world are now hanging on his every word, he has also prompted hysteria with his words of caution about the future. As he approaches his five-year anniversary in north London, the 47-year-old understandably wants assurances that his ambitions will be matched by the board.
Everyone desperately wants that to happen. Spurs used to get rid of managers like they were going out of fashion. In the time Alex Ferguson was at Manchester United, he saw 15 of them come and go.
The relationship Pochettino has built with the fans has not materialised out of nowhere. There is a collective sense that over half a decade, they have been on an extraordinary journey together.
That bond was there for all to see in Amsterdam on Wednesday, but it was carved out at every away game when he went over to acknowledge the visiting end at full-time, with his tears on the final day at White Hart Lane, and cemented even further the moment he led Spurs into their new stadium.
Of course, every manager is part of their club’s history in some small way, but few are willing to give as much. A man who starts his day at 6am and who eventually has to be kicked out of the training ground when the groundstaff turn off the lights, Lucas Moura’s winner over Ajax was the culmination of years of that hard work. The moment he collapsed to the ground in tears spoke of that dedication and passion.
And it all began with a promise to the fans that he and his staff would “give everything to make you proud of this football club”.