SN Blog 11 – Poch’s big mistake?

So anyone who has been a long time fan of the page or has read my posts or most recently these blogs will know I am a pretty positive person.  When it comes to Tottenham you have to be right?  I went to school during the era where a big name signing was Øyvind Leonhardsen and we were mid table at best.

However today I find myself feeling a little deflated about a situation simply because I think it contradicts an opinion I had held about our manager.


In Pochettino we have a manager who has been classy since arriving.  Not only has he transformed the fortunes of the club in terms of goals and performances but he has also conducted himself (and impressed on the players to do the same) to a very high standard.

We all know some of the stories from when he first joined and what he had to work through to build the squad to where it is now in terms of harmony.  For those who don’t, one example would be when Aaron Lennon refused to do a double training session telling the manager; “I was here before you and like very other manager I will be here after you’ve gone.”  Aaron never played for Spurs again.

Now Pochettino has never spoken publicly about these incidents or any other behind the scenes until now and I fear the timing is a problem.

Book Cover

The book, released soon, gives an incredible insight into the mind of Pochettino and behind the scenes at Tottenham which includes player interviews, the chairman Daniel Levy talking on record (very rare) and of course plenty of content from Mauricio Pochettino himself and it is that which is a concern.

The book is being serialised in the Mail on Sunday and last week the first extracts were printed, they were widely well received and probably made the book an essential stocking filler for every Spurs fan this Christmas.  This week, Sunday 22nd October the extract however talks about Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s pursuit of Eric Dier and how the player it seems wanted out.

I know this was widely reported in the press and the club made it clear he would not be sold, I also know the player has shown real professionalism in staying and playing very well however I fear by putting this all out there right now while we are half way through a season and while the manager is at the club and trying to build something.  It seems to be a really bad miss step by the manager.


Of course this is just my opinion.  My belief is that some things are best left not said and when you lose trust of your players you have a real problem as a manger.  For me, as a player, would I like my private conversations published in the press?  In a book?  In addition did we as a club not recently punish a player for going to the press with his views instead of airing them in a professional manner?

Everyone has an opinion, so below is the extract from the book on Dier:

“I’ve told Eric he has what it takes to be the best English centre back but he has to be convinced of that himself. We’ve put the conditions in place for him to improve. But he broke into the national team thanks to his displays in the [midfield] holding role and ended up scoring a couple of big goals.”

“After we signed [Victor] Wanyama [in summer, 2016], Eric, who now sees himself as a midfielder, felt that we had treated him badly because Wanyama’s arrival would halt his development. His performances have started to suffer this season. We’ve spoken a lot recently but I’ve felt he hasn’t been telling me everything. Later on, I once again tried to understand why he couldn’t shake off the shackles and I offered to help him with whatever it was. Nothing.”

“Then I found out that United have made an approach and the player is being destabilised. His people have been putting pressure on him, although United are not promising anything.  Mourinho and I had finished our interviews at Old Trafford [after the 1-0 defeat by Manchester United, December 2016] and the players were doing their warm-down on the pitch. When Jose was done with the press, he stood by the entrance to the tunnel and regarded the returning players.”

“He (Jose) greeted Moussa Sissoko and hugged Dier. They passed by me en route to the dressing rooms, laughing, speaking in Portuguese. Maybe it is a common Mourinho tactic, but he put Eric in a compromising position. You cannot do that after a defeat.”

“Are you friends with Mourinho?’ I asked him. ‘ No, but I’ve known him a long time, from my time in Portugal… one of his godsons coached me. He always says hello.”  I sat down with Eric after lunch on Monday and we chatted for four hours about the whole shebang: his agent, family, confusion.  As for the Mourinho incident, ‘What could I have done?’ Eric asked me.”

“He told me about United’s interest since last summer [2016] and I explained the situation to him clearly.  ‘Look, you aren’t leaving because you signed a five-year deal with us in August. You’re among the highest-paid players at Tottenham at the age of 22. You’re important to us and you could become the best centre back in the Premier League.  Ever since that conversation, Eric admits that he could have waited for Mourinho to be out of sight before heading to the dressing room.”

“He [Dier] has had a tricky six months. ‘You aren’t the same Eric as last year, the one from the Euros,’ I told him in training earlier in the season. Recently, I spent the week discussing and speaking about what was happening to him.

Every day we looked at different things. For instance, I made a table for him with the headings Good, Very Good, Excellent and Unique. I wrote Maradona, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the fourth one, before asking him where he saw himself.”  ‘Very Good,’ he said.  ‘Yes, that’s where you are. It’s only a short trip to Excellent.”

“Where are you as a defensive midfielder? And as a centre back?’ Eric thinks he’s further ahead as a midfielder than as a defender. We had a long chat about that because I disagree. In the end, I said to him, ‘It doesn’t matter. If you give 100 per cent wherever you play, it’ll go well.”

“Some things footballers have to discover on their own.  As form improves in February, Pochettino notices a difference.  Dier has rediscovered his focus, making good decisions and understanding his limits. We must not forget he has only just reached the top. I recently saw him in the gym doing intense exercise. I went up to him and said: ‘Eric is back.”

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