Pochettino refuses to indulge in “fake” managerial niceties

Date published: Saturday 29th October 2016 12:26

Mauricio Pochettino has hit out at the Premier League’s “fake” managerial niceties, revealing he never called Claudio Ranieri to congratulate the Italian on Leicester’s improbable title drive.

Leicester edged out Spurs to claim their maiden top-flight crown last season, with Ranieri landing an elusive first career league triumph.

Pochettino insisted he had not snubbed Ranieri – instead refusing to indulge English traditions he feels would compromise his managerial integrity.

Spurs’ Argentinian boss forced himself to watch Leicester’s title celebrations on TV the night Ranieri’s men sealed their triumph – then put both himself and his frustrations to bed.

“No, I never phoned him,” said Pochettino, of how he chose to congratulate rival boss Ranieri last year.

“I relayed my message in the press conference after the Chelsea game. My first sentence was to congratulate them and to send a message through the TV.

“I am not fake – I was not happy.

“It is like when we are fighting on the bench with the other bench and the culture here is to share a glass of wine in the manager’s room.

“Why? In front of the TV, ‘Look at me, I am very brave, fighting with everyone’, and then inside like, ‘I am very sorry for my behaviour, all the best, cheers, let us have a glass of wine’.

“Very fake. I am not fake. I congratulate him and all the fans of Leicester and the coaching staff and players, but I wasn’t happy.”

Spurs host Leicester on Saturday with Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld still missing through knee problems, though both could be back in action by the north London derby at Arsenal on November 6.

Tottenham’s ill-tempered 2-2 draw at Chelsea on May 2 handed Leicester last term’s Premier League title, sparking raucous celebrations in the East Midlands.

English football’s most unlikely champions rightly toasted their triumph in style, while Spurs licked the wounds of a sizeable missed opportunity.

Pochettino admitted disappointment still permeates the White Hart Lane club over failing to land the title last term – but not resentment, and certainly no ill will towards Leicester.

The former Southampton and Espanyol manager revealed he has, however, challenged his players to channel their disappointments into a renewed assault on the league this time around.

“When I arrived home after the Chelsea game I put on the TV and I watched all the celebrations for one hour and after that I turned it off and went to sleep,” said Pochettino.

“I’m not angry now, but disappointed. To be so close to the glory, that is sad.

“But that is a chapter that is closed. It was good when we got together after the Euros for meetings.

“It was good to close that chapter, to put out the feelings from the players, the staff.

“The theory is easy, but to translate and stop that feeling, to create good emotions, good ideas, good feelings again, that is the most difficult thing, not only in football, but my family, my house.”

Conjuring the definitive scene from the 2011 Hollywood blockbuster ‘Moneyball’, Pochettino insisted his players must hate losing, but know how to handle defeat with grace.

Brad Pitt’s character Billy Beane, the 2002 Oakland Athletics general manager, smashes a dressing-room radio with a baseball bat following one of his side’s losses.

His players stop larking around and he asks them: “Is losing fun?”

When the silence sinks in, Pitt’s character declares: “That’s what losing sounds like.”

Clapping his hands and pointing in the air to mimic that scene, Pochettino added: “Like in ‘Moneyball’ with Brad Pitt, bam! Shut up, and hear the silence.

“That is important. To say to give my best and be more professional, then no effort can ever be enough.

“In football you need to show respect. To see how opponents celebrate the title is to show respect to the history and to football. It’s to be gentlemen.

“And it’s true we need to use this feeling.”

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