Pochettino is right to aim big but ANY trophy would be welcome at Spurs
‘I would love to win the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup for our fans, but Tottenham must build a project with the possibility to fight for Champions League or Premier League.’
You can’t fault Mauricio Pochettino’s ambition. Perhaps he’s been taking cues from Spurs’ greatest ever manager, who often talked about the value of aiming high. So high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory, as the old line goes.
The difference, one would guess, is that Bill Nicholson had the luxury of having actually won something in his career. Those kind of poetic flourishes tend to deliver more impact when their creator has got multiple European and domestic titles to his name.
Imagine, say, if Tim Sherwood had offered that as an explanation after losing the 2015 FA Cup final. The most glorious of glorious failures.
Of course this could all be a ruse by Pochettino. A simple mind game. Psychologically, it pays to underline your status as a footballing superpower. If you can make enough people believe that you’re a big deal—much too important to trouble yourself with the lowborns of domestic knockouts—then maybe someone might believe you.
In reality, it does seems like a strange move. To devalue the importance of a competition which has harvested the few instances of actual success for the club in the last 26 years. Two League Cup final victories in 1999 and 2008 is the total sum of our trophy haul since 1991 and I’m not ashamed to say I rather enjoyed them both.
Jonathan Woodgate’s crumpled face, as he bundled in the extra-time winner against Chelsea in ’08, is a memory I’ll keep forever.
But Spurs, it seems, have moved on. And this is the crux of the issue for Pochettino. Yes, a cup would be nice—for both parties. It won’t have escaped the Argentine’s notice that all he’s got to show for his time in England thus far is a handful of Manager of the Month awards. But if we’ve got designs on challenging at the top end of the Premier League or, even, the latter stages of the Champions League, then the Carabao Cup will always be the fall guy.
It’s just what big clubs do and it’s just one of the many contradictory trappings of modern football. We crave success but damn it to hell if you think we’d actually try and win something.