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Dublin: 2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

'Maybe he thinks he’s taken this team as far as they can go'

Keith Andrews believes Mauricio Pochettino could leave Spurs but feels it won’t impact on their Champions League final display.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino (file pic).
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino (file pic).
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

KEITH ANDREWS IS not convinced Mauricio Pochettino will stay at Tottenham, but feels such doubts over their coach’s future will not affect the North London club’s Champions League final performance on Saturday.

The Argentine boss has hinted on more than one occasion that his future could lie away from Spurs in the lead up to this weekend’s match.

“He’s thrown a couple of curveballs over the last year, which isn’t really like him,” Andrews says. “I’ve covered a couple of games and we’re all in agreement of how respectable he’s been for the football club and how he’s dealt with the stadium move and the lack of transfer activity. He’s dealt with it with humility and respect for the football club, but in the last couple of weeks, there has been a couple of comments that make you think maybe he would move. Maybe he thinks he’s taken this team as far as they can go, or maybe he thinks they would have to sell one of the prize assets and they might not be able to replace him.

“He’s done a phenomenal job at that football club. People that say ‘but he hasn’t won a trophy,’ I don’t buy into that. You can be successful in a role without actually winning a trophy — to get them to the Champions League final and into the top four, a phenomenal achievement.” 

Andrews, however, says the Spurs players will not be overly concerned about the fate of their manager ahead of the pivotal fixture with Liverpool.

“I’ve had managers who say things publicly and they come into the dressing room and say: ‘I’ve just said that publicly.’ That type of thing goes on. I don’t think it will make a shred of difference in terms of how the players train or prepare. What’s going on for their respective careers is that agents and people who look after them, they’re touting them around, they’re speaking to all the big clubs and lining up potential moves if it can happen, so it’s no different [when a manager does it].”

Looking at the game more broadly, Andrews believes Liverpool are slight favourites and feels Harry Kane’s level of fitness could be a significant factor. 

“It’s going to be tight. You never quite know when teams have had a couple of weeks break what way they’ve come back with behind-closed-doors games. It helps Spurs with Harry Kane being the prime example, getting him back up to speed. He could have had two-three games behind closed doors. We wouldn’t have known about that.

“His absolute match sharpness isn’t there. Whether he comes on for half an hour, potentially into extra-time. But how will it go? I would say Liverpool are slight favourites, 60:40, but no more than that after what Spurs have produced in this tournament — both teams obviously, but Spurs in particular. To get through against Ajax, who I really fancied and liked how they played, having not played particularly well. It says a lot that they can grind out results, but it hasn’t always been the case with Spurs.

“Klopp’s record in finals gets highlighted all the time. He’ll back it away publicly, but I’m sure privately he wants to put it right.

I’d go along with the fact that people say Liverpool would be the favourites and are under more pressure. But the way they play, it’s not as if it’ll affect the style of performance. They’ll play the way they always play – front-foot football, aggressive, into the spaces, but it certainly won’t be an easy game. Spurs have some very talented players who I think have underachieved on a personal level over the last season. They’re more than capable of producing on the big stage.”

This year represents the first time that finalists from the Europa League and Champions League have all come from the same country — England. On a related note, there has been criticism in this outlet among others that the financial disparity, which has facilitated the sheer dominance of a handful of elite clubs — particularly Man City and Liverpool in the Premier League — is harming the overall spectacle of football. Does Andrews see the current state of affairs as problematic?

“I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest. You have to admire what these football clubs are doing. A lot is made of the financial fair-play aspect — City being scrutinised in terms of what they’ve done and how they’ve gone about it. Liverpool have been very shrewd with their signings over the last few years. But the level of performance those two teams have produced is really phenomenal. 

“But I don’t know what to do about it, because if you have serious finances at your disposal and you invest wisely and you have a coaching and management team and structure and are well run, there’s only going to be one outcome.”

So consequently, is the much-discussed idea of a European Super League the somewhat regrettable but inevitable solution to the increasingly one-sided nature of the majority of the ‘big five’ domestic leagues?

I wouldn’t like to see it. We’re in a world where we’re always looking for the next best thing and to improve and evolve things — even the Champions League and the way it’s gone the last 20 or 30 years having been just the champions of each respective country. I’d have been around at that time and I probably wouldn’t have liked the idea [of what it is now].

“I’m not sure [a Super League is] inevitable, but I wouldn’t rule it out. It would be a real shame to demolish the respective leagues. It’s different for some of the other leagues — they haven’t got the competitive nature of the leagues we have. The Premier League teams, when they go into Europe, much like the English national team, when they play international teams, they need to make it a Premier League game — other clubs can’t deal with that intensity, and Liverpool are a prime example of that. How they play the game, teams can’t live with them.”

Virgin Media Television is the home of European Football this week with live coverage of the Uefa Europa League Final on Wednesday 29th May from 6.30pm on both Virgin Media Two & Virgin Media Sport and the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday 1st June from 6pm on Virgin Media One & Virgin Media Sport.

Gavan Casey is joined by Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell for a review of the 2018/19 season, and cast an eye forward to next year and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Paul Fennessy

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