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Grading Mauricio Pochettino on Tottenham's 2014/15 Premier League Season

Published by Bleacher Report on Tue, 09 Jun 2015

Tottenham have had little luck with managers in the 21st century.Since George Graham rang in the new millennium in charge, Spurs have made 12 managerial changes.Mauricio Pochettino is the 10th different man to have held the post and the eighth in a permanent capacity.Fifty-four weeks after being appointed, Pochettino has already lasted longer than predecessors Jacques Santini, Tim Sherwood and Juande Ramos.By that metric, he is at least middle of the pack.Sherwood was infamously proud of his winning percentage as manager. Pochettino has, for now, eclipsed his immediateforerunner in that regard, having won50.88 percent of his matches in abusy first season in charge.It is also probably safe to say that Pochettino is the greatest Argentinian manager in the club's history given Ossie Ardiles' difficulties.All of that lifts Pochettino to, at minimum, a passing grade.In truth, there is an argument to be made that Pochettino has enjoyed the best opening to his Tottenham tenure of any manager in the last decade and a half.Of course, Ramos won a trophy after only four months but his team was in free fall shortly afterward and his eventual exit was a long time coming.BeyondHarry Redknapp's time in charge, there have been few bright moments for the club.They endured an especially painful season before Pochettino's arrival.The demise of Andre Villas-Boas and the mindless approach under his temporary successor Sherwood were difficult for the fans to endure.The football was turgid under one and brainless under the other.In his first 12 months in charge, Pochettino has installed both life and a plan.At their best, Spurs now look composed and aggressive. Their best performances outshone anything since Redknapp's Tottenham team and that comes after only one season.Not only do Spurs look a more structured and effective team under Pochettino, the team itself is largely composed of young players.Even Redknapp's team was reliant on older, more experienced players while this team leans most heavily on the 21-year-old Harry Kane, 20-year-old Nabil Bentaleb and 23-year-old Christian Eriksen. The future of this team is bright indeed.Those young players had all played for Spurs before Pochettino arrived so he cannot be praised for discovering them but each has improved significantly over the past season.Kane is the most obvious example of Pochettino's effectiveness. He is now one of England's finest centre-forwards.Eriksen tired towards the end of the season and his performances fell but it would be churlish to ignore his growth in the first two thirds of the campaign.Bentaleb is the quiet achiever but could eventually prove to be the most significant. His ability at his age is staggering but the consistency of his performances demands praise in itself.Pochettino deserves credit for the growth of each of these has enjoyed over the 2014-15 season and much more besides.Nacer Chadli, Ryan Mason, Eric Dier; all grew as players under Pochettino and none have yet likely hit their peak.Reaching the League Cup Final was a great achievement for a first season and, while the defeat to Chelsea was chastening, it seems likely to be only the first major occasion for this group of players.It could be argued that the period around that Wembley date showed Pochettino's limitations. Defeats in Florence and at Anfield ended both Spurs' Europa League and Champions League qualification hopes.Realistically, those defeats represented a lack of resources more than any failures of the manager and the margins of those defeats were fine indeed. Had Roberto Soldado not (inexplicably) failed to exploit a two-on-one situation against Neto, they could have progressed in Europe and the defeat to Liverpool was similarly closely contested.There is every reason to believe that, properly resupplied in the looming transfer window, Pochettino will be able to more effectively deploy his forces in the next campaign. After impressing with limited resources at Espanyol and Southampton, there were reasons to question his appointment to a club with larger aspirations and finer margins for error but he has flourished in his new position. It seems as if Pochettino is the perfect manager for Spurs at this point in their history.He seems to prefer talented players with a point to prove over established stars. Given the financial limitations at White Hart Lane, he is perfectly suited.If Pochettino has begun as he means to go on as Spurs manager, the club is in excellent hands.Certainly, the2014/15 season was a nearly perfect debut.
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