Last week, Daniel Levy received a remarkable call from Mauricio Pochettino – just over six months after the Tottenham chairman had sacked him. The Argentine was ringing to thank him.
This was evidently closure for Pochettino, before moving on. After a near six-year love affair with Tottenham, he was determined not to leave things on a sour note.
His surprisingly swift dismissal just before Christmas was unavoidable, Pochettino told Levy.
“I said to Daniel that we finished in the way that no-one wanted, but the end – because of our commitment, our emotion and our feeling – needed to happen,” Pochettino revealed.
“If not, our relationship will continue forever!
“Maybe that’s no good for the club or for us. I think when the decision came, we needed to move on.”
Mind you, Pochettino was not letting Levy off the hook so quickly over his 2014 appointment.
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“I also joked with him, ‘Oh, you signed me because the manager you liked at that time, Louis Van Gaal, chose to go to Manchester United!’” Pochettino added.
“Daniel told me that, at the time, he was very clear about that, it was very public.
“I was a very young coach, with my experience in Spain and my one-and-a-half years in Southampton.
“The football vision at Tottenham was completely different then to what it is now. To have helped the club to be what it is today is fantastic.
“Tottenham is one of the best clubs in the world. We feel very proud of that.”
Van Gaal recently revealed that Levy left his home after their meeting in the boot of a car in order to avoid being spotted by members of the public at the end of the drive.
The Tottenham chairman’s position right now is scarcely any more comfortable.
He has one of the best stadiums in the world but, right now, only the eighth best team in the Premier League.
They will resume the season seven points outside the top four. With Manchester City’s date fixed to try to overturn their European ban, it could mean Spurs miss out on the Champions League finances to which they have become accustomed.
With nine games to go, manager Jose Mourinho will be under scrutiny.
The pandemic lockdown has given the Tottenham injury crisis chance to resolve itself but at the same time it means much better will be expected going forward.
Pochettino, on the other hand, is very much in the driving seat with regards to his own career, mainly on the back of his achievements at Tottenham.
He took a side struggling even to qualify for the Champions League right the way to Europe’s grand final and established them among the very best teams in the Premier League. All on a tight budget.
Last week, though, Pochettino was happy to share the credit.
“I’ll always remember the good times,” he said. “I was telling Daniel, our success is also your success because you chose us. I told him the architect was him.
“Always Daniel is going to be my friend.
“I am a football person and we understand that sometimes the chapter finishes, football moves very quickly.
“When you spend this amount of time in a club, it’s because you were very successful.”
Still no trophies, though… As ever, Pochettino warms to the theme.
“Of course, when I was at Espanyol, I wanted to win trophies and when I moved to Southampton I wanted to win trophies,” he said.
“The same at Tottenham. The difference is the reality.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, this guy won a lot of titles and this guy didn’t win. But the problem is that we are not a coaching staff that started at Bayern Munich.
“The people can say, he wasn’t a successful coach … but people can measure successful people in different ways.”
Leaning into the Zoom meeting camera, the 48-year-old rubs the now grey tip to his otherwise chestnut beard.
Lockdown may have given him a little bit more facial hair than we are used to, but it has robbed Pochettino of none of his fire and self-belief.
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