Pochettino – The Interview

Mauricio Pochettino is quite the distant memory of sorts for Argentine football fans. For them he’s been one of those players that left over two decades ago and has tasted the succulent wine of success in far away lands.

Argentine daily La Nación had an exclusive interview with the Spurs boss and he had some amazing quotes about the game, his leadership style, social media and the status of modern football.

Below are some quotes of the current Spurs coach in the interview with Cristián Grosso.

On social media:

“I like my work, I am passionate about it and I know that it requires a great deal of responsibility in conveying messages. You are a public figure and people demand things from you, I know that. I feel comfortable giving the bare minimum, which is what I naturally what I feel I should do.

I know that I can sell myself better, go to a thousand places, open up a Twitter account, post photos and say, I am here or there; but I think that it frivolous and superficial. Mind you I respect that others do it. If it feels comfortable doing it, that is fine. I don’t need to have people show me affection to feel good.

The recognition I get from my friends, family and loves ones suffices. I don’t look to be popular. (I don’t need to) do something, post it, look at the comments and that will motivate me later on to inflate (my ego). I don’t need thousands of followers on Twitter to be happy. No, I don’t need that to (feed) me. I prefer professional recognition before populism and to be charming in order to sell something. I have a great deal of respect for this profession. It is my passion. Football is emotion. We also have to preserve it and care for it, not everything goes. I believe that everything is a bit distorted from the business aspect and those things. But I try to maintain my respect for what the ball truly means.”

On how he’s changed since his debut as a coach in the Catalan derby in 2009:

“Lots. I hope to keep changing. The day I stop evolving is the day that I have to leave this profession. Coaches should be open and aware of what’s going on so he doesn’t stagnate. If you think you know it all, that you have arrived, then you have to work in television as an analyst.”

If you get a call from Newell’s Old Boys and they are on the verge of relegation, would you take over the team like you did with Espanyol?

“I don’t have the proper answer as of today. First of all, I am not the only qualified person that could help them. Am I the right person? I don’t believe that either because I am not familiar with Argentina and its demands. I don’t believe I am God or anything special, I have to be honest. To adapt to Argentine football would be impossible and catastrophic for a club I adore. It would be very egotistical on my part. The conditions to return to Newell’s would have to emerge spontaneously, that things happen naturally. Would I like to someday coach Newell’s? Sure. But I don’t see it that way.”

Do you follow what is going on in Argentina?

“My level of knowledge is practically zero. I couldn’t give you a proper opinion because I have not gone in depth with the reasons that led to this situation or looked at any possible solutions. Yes, I do hear about certain news and people that denounce the current state of Argentine football and its administrators, but it would not be prudent to give an opinion. I don’t want to wash my hands. I just don’t know what is going on and to give an opinion that is probably inaccurate, I believe that the most appropriate thing is to see things from the outside. I just can’t seem to understand it.”

Are you worried that Argentina won’t qualify for the World Cup?

“I have no doubt that Argentina will qualify. I have absolute trust in our players and with, without knowing Bauza, I wish him the best. In the past few years, e’ve come very close. We’ve been denied success by very thin lines but we’ve fallen into total self-destruction. Seems like it was good for nothing and that is how us Argentines are: exaggerated in both the good and the bad.”

Llegaste a evaluar qué hacer si te ofrecían dirigir a la selección argentina?  (Coach Argentina national team?)

“No, honestly I am fine at Spurs. At my age, I am happy to be involved on a daily basis with my team. SI just took it as another rumor in the football world, amongst many that exist. Coaching in Argentina is not within my short-term plans. Maybe in the long-term because my two dreams are to coach Newell’s and the national team.”

Do you fear that defeats will bring about more defeats?

“Football is a state of mind. The physical, the technical, the tactical aspect are all fine. The key is the mindset. With everything that has happened in the past few years you have to make it positive, not negative. We have to get away from feeling victimized. ‘Listen, gents. Next time we’ll get it.” This is a job where we have to convince. The psychological part is important. If we are capable of elevating self-esteem, believe in an idea and achieve that my teammate and I become unbeatable. There is such great potential yet left to be discovered that will surely mark a new boundary in the difference between winning and losing.”

How do you lead the new generations?

“You have to try to feel things the way they do, show empathy. Nowadays, the more human leader is the one that is successful. The Iron Fist is a thing of the past. The kids also feel passion but you have to help them discover it, discover inspiration. More than motivate them, you have to take care of them. Today, everything tends to make relationships colder. You have to maintain them via text messages, Whats App, Skype. It’s very difficult for people nowadays to create a relationship, to look people in the eye, touch another person. Those of us that come from another generation have the responsibility to not have this new generation forget how to touch, talk to each other, relate. All of that is what football consists of. Tactics are nothing more than the relación that you have with your teammate. Based on how we relate amongst each other we will define how we act.”

But how are you not a “sergeant” or another “friend”…

“With spontaneity. There are no problems if you, in front of your group o one person act in a genuine manner. The worst thing you can do to a player is hide who you really are, to act one way and then act another.”

You have to trust in yourself with honesty in front of everything else. This will help you to never be wrong. You can be upset, you can show your less appealing side. You can be near or far, you will always be you. You can keep being sho you are, believe in your intuition, believe in oneself. I’ve learned to act that way because I’ve made mistakes in the past.” Is coherence the only path to credibility?

Is coherence the path to credibility?

It’s also possibly my coherence is not the coherent for someone else. Within every group there are individuals and they are all different. Individually you have to speak to players and know that each one understands the correct message is also a difficult job. It’s like wit your kids. You can say, ‘But I raise my kids under the same way. With the same values…’ But yet one you reach one way and another another way. In football it is very similar to home.

Is the Premier League the best league to coach in?

In Europe English football is underestimated. They still believe it is the same (type of football) that was played 30-40 years ago. The longball game. Sometimes it is to the point of disdain for the English footballer and English culture. Maybe that is changing slowly because the financial muscle is here, that has big stars, with the exception of those that play for Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern or Juventus to come here.

There is an uncontrolled passion for football in England, but in a respectful manner. It’s where the footballer or the coach are like an actor or a doctor- they are respected by society. They are a person with a talent and the garners the admiration within this society.

That is something that in Argentina,South America or in other parts of Europe, creates envy. Anyone there feels it is within their right to discredit or insult you. Here that is sacred and there is no price for that. People go to the pitch to enjoy themselves. Meanwhile you see matches in Spain or Argentina and you feel a little embarrassed. half of the people go because of political reasons, they insult, injure and create problems. It’s hard to say, but English football is an example to follow. Because us Argentine, because of all that has happened, because of the difficult history we’ve had, we still hold a grudge over everything that is English.

Pitches without wires where rival players are taking corners and they can’t take them without being spit on…

“It’s crazy, exactly. There are several questions that we should ask ourselves. (English society) is not perfect, what I have to make clear is that there are many problems and things that need improvement. But in just plain football terms, the way they have cleaned up the game and organized the venues is an example.”

Did being Argentine cause you any problems?

No, quite the opposite. they have shown me a great deal of affection and sadness from people that had family and friends (serve) in Malvinas (Falkland Islands War). Even people that were on the island and have run into me have shown me a affection and lamented what happened. That captured my attention greatly.”

Te gusta la tecnología para revisar los fallos?  (Technology in football)

“I liked the use of it. A few years ago the Premier League started to use it to see if a ball went in or not. That is very important because there are very difficult situations for referees and it does not affect the game in any way. It’s instant, pure justice. The rest are things that happen in football and that is the essence of it all, that is the beauty of the game. I would not understand if football were to be stopped like in tennis when they use Hawkeye. No, football is dynamic and everyday should be more dynamic, vibrant and intense. If we are going to stop all the time to make a decision, we will distort football.

Football is a game for the clever, filled with deceit. I mean that in the sporting sense. I am not talking about diving into the pool to get a penalty. Football is surprise and creative maliciousness. It should not be robotic, but creative. For fans, a 90 minute match can’t last more than two hours if they stop the match a thousand times to review plays. Everyone will fall asleep!”

Would you have live to have been a finalist in the The Best Awards?

“No. I would like to be there someday, but look, everything will come at the right time. In the end, the work and dedication… as in life end up paying off. Things will come when they must. Titles and awards are a byproduct of winning, society demands that. The measure of success has a different measure for each one of us. Of course, winning is synonymous with success. Let’s not be hypocritical we all like to be recognized that glory you get to feel when you win. But you have to learn to recognize success on a daily basis. That is comforting and transmits many emotions and values when you see a group of players growing.”

Where you shocked when you were mentioned as a possible candidate for the England national team job?

“I wasn’t shocked. My wife always stresses how much they value my work here after just four years. In a very short time here many hae shown a great deal of affection towards me despite being a foreigner. The people close to me see it as a greater recognition than what I have received in Argentina or Spain or in places where I was for longer periods of time.”

Exactly, what do people in Argentina know about you?

“Well, I believe I am from nowhere now. I have a Spanish passport, but for Spaniards I am Argentina. (The English) say Argentine coach Pochettino’s Spurs, they don’t say the Spaniard Pochettino. In Argentina they say it’s ‘Lamela’s Spurs’, not Pochettino’s.”

That’s not true. The other day Pochettino’s Spurs defeated league leaders Chelsea.

“Well, that doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t keep me up at night. But notice that in Argentina ‘Guardiola begins to think about retirement’ sells more than ‘Pochettino ends Conte’s unbeaten run’. I get it. I played for Newell’s. I was on the national team, but I wasn’t a great player. I understand that i have to do many more things to have the attention of the Argentine media and for that to get me closer to the people.”

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