Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp will face off against each other in the biggest game of their careers this Saturday, the Champions League final. Madrid will play host to the first all-English final since 2008, but no matter who lifts the trophy on Saturday both clubs have made remarkable progress over the last five years.
Pochettino has been in charge of Spurs since the summer of 2014 and since then he has overseen a huge squad overhaul without spending much money in comparison to their rivals. Now, he has a brand spanking new stadium to show for his efforts as well as the chance to win club football’s biggest prize - against all the odds. Pochettino’s first game was a 1-0 win over London rivals West Ham at Upton Park on the opening day of the 14/15 season, a campaign that would see Spurs fifth and qualify for the Europa League.
Since then they have finished third, second, third and fourth this season, establishing themselves as a Champions League club under the Argentine. The players have changed too. Heung Min Son has become a key player having been brought in from Bayer Leverkusen whilst Harry Kane has established himself as one of the world’s best finishers. They’ve come a long way in the last five years.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp took over at Anfield in October 2015. The club was in disarray after a series of failed managers and players had come and gone. They finished eighth at the end of the season and showed instant improvement the following season, regaining their Champions League spot by coming fourth. In 17/18 they finished fourth once again and reached the Champions League final but this season had the promise to top everything.
They finished with an outstanding 97 points in the Premier League but were pipped to the title but Man City, but they have shown clear improvement by reaching the Champions League final once more. Win or lose, serious progress has been made under Klopp and that upwards trajectory looks set to continue over the next few seasons.
Both clubs must be delighted with the progress their clubs have made heading into this final. Of course, both clubs will be desperate to win and make this moment their crowning glory, but they can sleep soundly knowing that their teams are heading in the right direction. It would not be a surprise to see both clubs lift trophies over the next two years given the progress we have seen.
These squads have changed a lot since the managers’ first game in charge - but can you remember the players who lined up for the first games? Tottenham’s side comes from August 2014 - Liverpool’s from October 2015. Incidentally, Klopp’s first game in charge was a 0-0 draw against Pochettino’s Tottenham.