Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham on Tuesday evening – here, we pick out 10 games that defined his reign.
When Pochettino took over in 2014, it took a little while for things to get going – nine games in, in his first November at the club, Spurs sat 11th and already there were questions asked about whether he would be the man to take them to the next level.
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But from then on, they never looked back, with Pochettino guiding them to four consecutive top-four finishes and a Champions League final.
As Tottenham begin their search for a new boss, here are the 10 games that defined Pochettino’s tenure.
Early League Cup final defeat sets the tone
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham, March 1 2015: Spurs’ empty trophy cabinet during Pochettino’s tenure has hung over his head in the past couple of years – but he could have nipped it in the bud before it began in his very first season, when they were pipped to the post in the League Cup final courtesy of two deflected goals for Chelsea at Wembley.
Capitulation at Chelsea hands Leicester the title
Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham, May 2 2016: Tottenham would go on to be mocked for coming ‘third in a two-horse race’ behind Leicester and Arsenal in 2015/16, but their capitulation from two goals up in a bad-tempered game at Stamford Bridge to guarantee the Foxes the title showed why they had lost out over the course of the season.
Chelsea’s beleaguered side had struggled in the campaign, but took advantage of Spurs’ still fragile mentality to draw 2-2 and, in denying their rivals a chance of the title, had something to smile about. Things went from bad to worse when Moussa Dembele was handed a six-game ban for an eye-gouge on Diego Costa.
A mark of title contenders?
Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City, October 2 2016: Dare to dream? Tottenham inflicted the first defeat of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City tenure and moved within a point of the then Premier League leaders, even without the injured Harry Kane, raising the prospect that they could win their first top-flight title since 1961.
Of the two high-intensity pressing games, it was theirs that looked the more accomplished on the day, with Spurs appearing every bit ready to compete for the trophy.
A power shift in North London
Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal, April 20 2017: Mauricio Pochettino had often played down the importance of the Tottenham-Arsenal rivalry but he would be kidding himself not to realise the significance of finishing above the Gunners for the first time in 22 years with a 2-0 win at White Hart Lane. Was this the sign of a power shift?
A perfect farewell to the Lane
Tottenham 2-1 Manchester United, May 14 2017: Tottenham confirmed an unbeaten home campaign in 2016/17 with victory over Manchester United in their final game at White Hart Lane, a fitting ending for the club’s home of 118 years and a sign that perhaps they were getting closer to the Premier League title.
Finishing seven points off winners Chelsea and with the best home record in the division kept the optimism flowing, something that would be knocked by a tricky time in their temporary Wembley home.
Stunning the European champions
Tottenham 3-1 Real Madrid, November 1 2017: Handed a Champions League group of death alongside Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham laid down a marker to Europe with a wonderful display of attacking football to dismantle the European champions, secure qualification for the last 16, and raise hopes that they could mix it with the big boys on the continent.
Trophy pressure begins to heighten
Tottenham 1-2 Manchester United, April 21 2018: Having lost out to Chelsea at the same stage 12 months prior, Dele Alli’s early goal set Spurs on their way in the FA Cup semi-final – but they couldn’t hold on.
By now the demands for a trophy had become louder and Spurs extending their run of FA Cup semi-final defeats to eight did little to dampen them down. Would this impressive team get their hands on silverware before they broke up?
The miracle of Amsterdam
Ajax 2-3 Tottenham, May 8 2019: …Well, maybe they would. A miracle in Amsterdam, a work of true magic from Lucas Moura and perhaps something to shake off the often unfair ‘Spursy’ moniker given to the club for their capitulation when push comes to shove. A first Champions League final in their history – would they finally break their trophy duck, on Europe’s biggest stage?