Tottenham Hotspur’s players arrive in Madrid for their Champions League final on Wednesday. Reuters
Mauricio Pochettino used to wince when his pressing game was compared with Jurgen Klopp’s but Tottenham and Liverpool share more than just a love of the chase in their recent fight to join Europe’s elite.
With star players sold and the proceeds, largely, squandered, Pochettino and Klopp were each tasked with restoring a sense of direction to clubs clearly wandering off course.
Only this year have Liverpool soared ahead, their 26-point advantage over Spurs in the Premier League testament to a team that turned last year’s Champions League run into a start not a finish. Now it is up to Tottenham to do the same.
When Pochettino was installed as head coach in the summer of 2014, to little excitement after the more illustrious Louis van Gaal chose Manchester United, he owed some gratitude to Liverpool.
Spurs had been humiliated by them 5-0 at White Hart Lane, which spelt the end for Andre Villas-Boas, and then thrashed 4-0 at Anfield, which all but ensured Tim Sherwood would not be a permament successor to the Portuguese manager.
By the time Pochettino arrived, Gareth Bale had gone, and so had his 100 million euro transfer fee, splashed on seven new signings, four of whom would be out by the end of Pochettino’s second summer.