A bitter reality check struck Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, as they were bullied and battered by a physical Burnley side.
The Argentine manager surprisingly lost his temper at the end with referee Mike Dean for questionable decisions in the game.
While Pochettino quickly retained his gracious nature to admit his mistake, there’s no need for him to play the nice guy anymore. In fact, he needs to be tougher on his players and make them teach them to be stronger when opponents try to crumble them.
Indeed, the Argentine’s three-man defence line was compromised multiple times against Burnley, whose resilient attack overpowered them. Everything was far too nice and being nice simply doesn’t win a league title.
Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes worked in tandem to deconstruct Spurs’ defensive solidity, confusing players with their movement, while often rattling them with physicality. It’s not that Spurs’ defenders aren’t strong enough, but Pochettino doesn’t train them to stick up to and occasionally even stick into opponents who try to derail them.
Pochettino might believe in the beautiful side of the football, often exhibited in Spurs’ attractive style of football, but he needs to instil some old-school, English values into his team. They need to implement a sense of brutality in their game to keep sides from bullying them time and again.
The Argentine needs to realize that poets really don’t win anything in football.
In order to inherit a winners mentality, Pochettino needs to inherit the adaptability of playing rough when circumstances require it in order to grind past difficult oppositions.