‘I like him and love him’ – Bielsa remorse at Pochettino axe

Date published: Thursday 21st November 2019 1:14

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has expressed his regret at Tottenham’s decision to sack his close friend Mauricio Pochettino, saying his countryman has left Jose Mourinho with a “very attractive team”.

The Argentine led Spurs to top-four finishes in four of his five seasons in charge, as well as their first Champions League final last term.

However, Tottenham have won just five matches this season and chairman Daniel Levy said a change had to be made in the “club’s best interests”.

Mourinho has already got his feet under the table at Tottenham and is seemingly already planning two huge January moves, but despite his axing, stock in Pochettino remains high and he’s likely to find himself very quickly a man in demand.

Bielsa was the man who gave Pochettino his break in the game when the latter was a coach and the former was a young footballer at Newell’s Old Boys – and the pair remain extremely close.

Now the highly-regarded Leeds boss has given his thoughts on Tottenham’s decision to sack him – and claims the next side who gets him can consider themselves extremely fortunate.

“I will talk of the relationship I have with Pochettino with what I have seen in English football,” Bielsa told a press conference at Thorp Arch to preview Saturday’s match at Luton.

“The work Pochettino has done is brilliant. In the last year he put Tottenham at a high level in the world. This for any manager is a big achievement. For me, it’s more important yet because the team that played the final of the Champions League was a team he built very carefully.

“The performance of this team was linked to the collective play built between him and his players. Rather than top players bought for them. They didn’t buy top players. This reality makes the work of Pochettino even more important. Something professional like that acquires one credit absolutely deserved.”

Asked about his difficult time at Spurs this season, Bielsa continued: “Maybe he could not enjoy this achievement at Tottenham. Maybe because I do not know the real situation, but he will take this credit because big clubs in the world will try to take him.

“This manager will lead one of the best teams in the world. The background is he makes Tottenham one of the best teams in the world.”

Asked if he felt sad to see his close friend sacked, Bielsa added: “I like and love him a lot. It upsets me. When something not good happens to him I cannot ignore this. If we see the close effect of this situation we can be sad. I feel sad.

 

“In 15 days he will be at the top again because when you see the things being far from them without looking at the facts, after you can see what you realise what he really achieved.

“What I say now doesn’t link with the relationship I have with Mauricio and everybody will realise when he takes the next team. Now he leaves a team that is attractive to Mourinho. This is a big achievement. The next team he receives will create that respect.”

Leeds star Kalvin Phillips, meanwhile, has had his cause for a call-up by England talked up by a Sky Sports pundit.

 

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