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Restless Mauricio Pochettino holds key to Spurs' progress

Tottenham Hostpur's future is inextricably linked to their Argentine manager's next steps, with stadium move still casting a show over North London club's progress.

Friday 2 November, 2018
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts on the sidelines as he watches his players during the English Premier League soccer in London, England.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts on the sidelines as he watches his players during the English Premier League soccer in London, England. Foto:Alastair Grant/AP

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Dele Alli's reaction to signing a new six-year deal with Tottenham this week underlined why Mauricio Pochettino is so valuable to the north London club amid claims the Argentine coach is growing restless.

Victory at Wolves on Saturday would extend Spurs' best start to a Premier League campaign since Pochettino took charge ahead of the 2014-15 season.

That, though, tells only part of the story.

Performances have too often fallen short of standards set in recent seasons, throwing focus on the failure to make any signings during the last transfer window.

The after-effects of a gruelling World Cup campaign have taken a toll on a number of Pochettino's squad, while Tottenham's Champions League campaign already hangs in the balance.

Add to that the continuing delays to Tottenham's move back into a rebuilt White Hart Lane, and there is a growing sense the club is treading water right now.

Speaking ahead of Monday's home defeat to Manchester City, Pochettino admitted to feeling frustrated, conceding this was the worst he has felt since taking charge of the club.

Pochettino acknowledged his side has made some progress, but insisted off-field distractions had diverted their focus away from winning trophies.

It doesn't help, then, that Real Madrid, long term admirers of the Argentinian, are now looking for a replacement for the sacked Julen Lopetegui.

Pochettino's future appeared secure when he signed a new five-year contract at the end of last season.

But Tottenham would not be the first club to discover they have a fight on their hands if the La Liga giants decide to step up their interest in the manager.

The central importance of Pochettino to Tottenham's long-term plans, though, was reinforced by Alli's glowing endorsement.

The England midfielder became the latest member of Pochettino's squad to sign a long-term deal this week and made it clear the Argentine was a major factor in his decision to put pen to paper.

In demand

"He is a massive part of wanting to be at this club," said Alli after Wednesday's win at West Ham in the League Cup. “The fans are amazing, the chairman, everyone – the whole club's amazing.”

“But as players you work with the gaffer, you want to have a good relationship with the manager, and we all feel like we've got that here. He's done a lot for me so far and hopefully he can keep helping me to improve.”

A return to White Hart Lane – the target is now the meeting with Manchester United on January 13 – is clearly an important staging post in Tottenham's development and will give everyone connected with the club a lift.

Pochettino, though, knows he will then discover the extent to which the investment in a new stadium impacts on the club's ability to bring in new players.

As a manager in demand, Pochettino will inevitably evaluate his position and determine whether his prospects are better served elsewhere.

Particularly if Real Madrid firm up their interest.

He will also believe, however, that there is much more to come from his existing squad, while the new stadium offers the chance write the next chapter in Spurs' history.

Ian Winrow/AFP

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