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Mauricio Pochettino on Monday Night Football: Next job, leaving Spurs, and more

"I am waiting to feel what is the right project for us," Mauricio Pochettino told Monday Night Football when asked about his future. He also discussed his sacking by Tottenham, criticism of Spurs' mentality, and his "amazing journey" with the club.

Mauricio Pochettino on MNF
Image: Mauricio Pochettino was the special guest on Monday Night Football

Mauricio Pochettino was the special guest on this week's Monday Night Football and opened up on a range of topics, from highs and lows at Tottenham to what management plans are for the future.

Pochettino spent five-and-a-half years at Spurs, leading them to the Champions League final, League Cup final, and two FA Cup semi-finals, as well as four top-four finishes in the Premier League, before being dismissed in November 2019.

Here are some of the key topics the Argentinean coach discussed on the show…

Next job? 'I am waiting to feel what is the right project'

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Mauricio Pochettino discusses his thoughts regarding where he may end up next when he makes his long-awaited return to football management.

[Will your next job be in the Premier League?] "I don't know. I'm not going to close any door. I learnt when I was really, really young, [Pochettino's former coach] Jorge Griffa would say, 'Mauricio, football is going to dictate your way'. And I am waiting to feel what is the right project for us, which is the right way to take.

"Of course, we are living a very crazy situation, a crazy moment in our life that we never expected. And of course, all is completely different, not only football.

"My energy is full, I'd love to be involved in the game but at the same time I need to understand that at the moment is a good moment that you need to wait. You need to wait for the right project and for sure football is going to bring what football wants and we need to be open and to accept or not.

My energy is full, I'd love to be involved in the game but at the same time I need to understand that at the moment is a good moment that you need to wait.
Mauricio Pochettino

"Now it's the same game but different football. Without fans, we enjoy because we love football. We try to enjoy it, we try to lie to ourselves. But for the players it is so tough to play, for the coaching staff it is so difficult to work. I think for the owners, for the presidents, for the CEOs it's so difficult to keep alive to try to protect all the employees and to try to make the industry keep going, because there's a lot of people who need football to live.

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"It's a tough, tough moment. I don't feel it is one year that I'm not working. Maybe because of the last seven, eight months. With no fans in the stadium, it's like it's not football. We are watching a similar game but it's not the passion there, it's not the emotion there, and that sometimes [consoles] you.

"If you feel the crowd shouting and the emotion, and you go to watch the game in the stadium, maybe you say, 'ah I want to battle with your team facing an opponent'. But at the moment it's like you watch from TV, from your home… it's strange. A difficult time for everyone."

Reflections on being sacked by Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino spoke on Monday Night Football about leaving Tottenham and said he holds no ill feeling towards the club over his dismissal.

"After one year, I can say that I was disappointed, a little bit upset and not happy. This was a club that after five-and-a-half years the relationship was massive with the staff, the players and the fans. I am not going to lie.

"But at some point I understand very well this is football. The stadium, in our period, our chapter, the club had to change. But I am not going to complain about the club, about the decision of [Daniel Levy]. All I can do is support because we still have a very good relationship.

"The man who replaced me [Jose Mourinho] is a good friend. A manager who always treated me very well. When he was at Real Madrid, I remember him inviting me to a Champions League game against Ajax and we were talking in his changing room in the Bernabeu. A delegate said, 'Jose, the game is about to start, we need to go'.

"I feel it is only what I can wish, because I love Tottenham and I know Jose and want the best for him, is to try to win. But this journey missed to win a title. That is what we missed. To put the cherry on the top of the cake."

Pochettino opens up on Bielsa
Pochettino opens up on Bielsa

Mauricio Pochettino shares his memories of working with Marcelo Bielsa and reveals what makes the Leeds boss so special.

'An amazing journey' with Spurs - now he hopes they win a trophy with Mourinho

"It was not a big surprise. When I was a player I wanted to win. That is our mentality. I wanted to win every game when I was at Espanyol and Southampton. You use the tools to perform in the best way, respecting our values and our principles. Providing that platform to help the players to improve every day. We are very demanding in all the areas. We want to help them to be better as individuals and as a collective.

"I was proud from the beginning to connect with the club, build a good relationship with Daniel and build a good relationship with the board. They saw how we wanted to build. Respecting 'To Dare Is To Do'. Always on my mind was this sound, that Tottenham was about the glory and about the style. Trying to respect that and knowing that it would be massive work to try to compete with the big sides.

Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino during an FA Cup semi-final between Spurs and Man Utd at Wembley in 2018
Image: Jose Mourinho has replaced Pochettino as Tottenham manager

"When we arrived in 2014, the big clubs were spending money to improve the team. For us, it was a bit different. Our objective was always to win because as a coach if you don't win it is difficult to stay in charge, but also to improve and to play in the Champions League. Trying to be contenders like in the past. In the same way, trying to create some identity, some philosophy, where the fans could feel proud. That is why I feel so proud.

"We had the facility to build something special but at the end, when the expectation is so high, you need to win. You need something concrete, something important. Win a title. Premier League and Champions League, we were close. But we did not. Everyone knows what happened in the end but I think it was an amazing journey that we enjoyed a lot.

"We only feel sad that we could not provide to the club and the fans a trophy because this group of players deserve to be recognised with a trophy. I hope in the future it will be possible to win a trophy in the future with Jose because it would be amazing for the fans and this group of players, the majority of whom were with us."

Mauricio Pochettino on MNF
Image: Mauricio Pochettino joined Jamie Carragher and Dave Jones on MNF

Criticism of Spurs' mentality hurt

"It was a little bit a shame. We were so upset every time we listened to some people say bad things about the Spurs mentality.

"In the end we understood what it means for Tottenham, always behind to Arsenal. When we arrived it was 20 or 22 years, always behind Arsenal. It was so painful for our fans and for the whole club.

"That was like people on the street - 'please, we can't finish below [Arsenal]'. That was like winning the Champions League for the people when we arrived."

No regrets about selecting injury-doubt Kane in the Champions League final

Image: Pochettino defended his decision to select Harry Kane for the 2019 Champions League final, although he had been an injury doubt

"The decision is the decision and you can't go back. But for sure, if you put me in the same situation again, I will take the same decision again. You cannot doubt about Harry Kane. Of course, you can do some changes. But Harry Kane was our main striker, and the best player in Tottenham, if not in England or Europe. Then when he's fit to play you cannot have doubts.

"Then it was the long process of Harry Kane. It's a process that started maybe four, five years ago, with a dream to play and to fight and to battle for big things. To be real contenders, not only to try to win a League Cup, or FA Cup. They are important too but in the way we built the squad, it was really difficult to fight for four competitions in a season. You have to take decisions.

"But it was our dream to try to be one day in this final of the Champions League or be real contenders in the Premier League. And, of course, a player that helps you… and there was no doubt, we really believed that was the best team to play and to perform and win the game. I would take that decision again."

We found a group with different habits" - It took time to get methods across at Spurs

"We spent a little bit more time than at Southampton [to get methods across]. Southampton was different from Tottenham. When we arrived at Tottenham the circumstances were completely different. Tottenham was a team with 33 players, a team trying to create some identity, to change the period they were dealing until then and to try to develop a different way to approach the games.

"For us Tottenham was an amazing journey, more than five years, that we really enjoyed from day one. People like Joe Lewis, the owner, Daniel Levy and all the board and all the people on the staff, that was helping from day one, helping us to be successful. And then the players - they were amazing too.

Mauricio Pochettino
Image: Pochettino said he had to make significant changes when he arrived at Spurs

"We found a group with different habits. The players are not responsible for the habits they adopt. Always it is who leads the club, who leads the companies - today football clubs are companies - you need to be strong in how you want to create the habits and to translate the principles to your team.

"The players are important because the principles are taken onto the pitch. Then you need to create the line from the top and be strong in your principles and the way you are going to develop, for the thing to happen in the way you want.

"I think it was amazing to have this possibility, to feel free, to create something special in Tottenham. Change always is painful, really painful. But when you arrive at a new club you need to make some changes. You need to start to build. That is why it's so important to create that big platform. The coaching staff is about creating the platform where the players can feel comfortable and can improve."

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