Mauricio Pochettino has transformed Tottenham into the team we see today since his arrival in 2013, but he needs to learn from his mistakes in previous cup exits.
Tottenham tomorrow face Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, a fixture they come in as significant underdogs.
While Pochettino has indeed changed the fortunes of the North London side entirely since his appointment, he is yet to obtain any silverware, something he regularly received criticism for. Importantly, he must learn from the painful cup defeats his team have suffered in recent years.
A pertinent example to look at would be Tottenham’s FA Cup semi-final 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in which Pochettino opted to start Heung-min Son at left wing back. It was a tactical roll of the dice which went wrong.
More recently Tottenham were knocked out by Juventus in the last 16 of last season’s Champions League. It was a tie in which Tottenham thoroughly deserved to win, but ultimately it was again inexperience that cost them. Tottenham have vastly improved since that defeat gained an abundance of experience simultaneously.
In Monday’s pre-match press conference, on the upcoming Champions League fixture, Pochettino said: ‘We want to start tomorrow being very aggressive and try to dominate.’
This is perhaps not the best approach to take to a team who are so quick and dangerous on the break. City’s game plan will be to dominate and control the game themselves, countering anything Tottenham do throw forward. From experience, they know the Tottenham defence are liable to a mistake or two and will look to pounce on anything they see.
Arguably Tottenham’s best performances of the season have come against Borussia Dortmund, in which Tottenham shut up shop and looked to counter. Particularly in the return leg, they put in a defensive performance they simply would not have been capable of just a few years ago. It really seemed as if they had indeed learned from their defeat to Juventus, but they will have to show it once more against City.
Pochettino should look to replicate this kind of performance if Tottenham are to progress. He must realise that it is naive to believe Tottenham can go toe to toe with any team in the world. They must adapt their tactics to suit the match, or it could get ugly. An early City goal would be a disaster – one which may have drastic implications on the rest of the tie.
Tottenham fans – do you think Pochettino has learned from previous cup exits? Is attacking from the off the right approach? Comment below …