Mauricio Pochettino is keen to speak to his old rival Arsene Wenger for management advice
On Monday, for the first time, he seemed to give out the impression that he is itching to move on to bigger things.
The Carabao Cup may be the least respected competition on Pochettino’s radar but it is still a big enough stumbling block to trip up a man who has yet to win a trophy. And Pochettino, for all his enthusiastic advocates, is a man who has won nothing.
But that is why it is Tuesday night’s semi-final first leg against Chelsea rather than the visit of his most likely next employers Manchester United on Sunday which shone a bigger light on his thoughts on his own future.
“When Daniel Levy called me to offer a contract here, he was clear – him and owner Joe Lewis,” he said when the cameras were rolling at his pre-match press conference.
“They said: ‘Mauricio, you need to prepare and to help the club to arrive to the new stadium. When we finish the new stadium, in the first season at the new stadium, we need to have a team that can finish in the top four in the season after.’
“We are in advance of that, no? That is why sometimes I laugh when the people say we need to win a trophy.”
In the more intimate surroundings of his subsequent briefing with the written press, he presented a flip side to his financial concerns that will be music to the ears of United fans, a club who gave Jose Mourinho £420million to spend in little over two years.
“If I had arrived at Tottenham and Daniel says you have £300m to spend, it is my responsibility to win. Come on, if I was to spend £300m and then say the project is to build step by step and be in the top four or maybe win something…. Come on, it’s not normal, this. When the club offers you the job they say what the club expects from you.
Pochettino is unsure on what his future holds
“If the club says to you ‘I want you to win the Champions League, the Premier League, the Carabao Cup,’ you say ‘OK, you want to win this and this and this? Can you give me this and this and this?
“Yes? OK, then I need to deliver it and win. And…your question was?”
The second part of his answer was actually in response to a question about Moussa Sissoko, which just goes to show how close to the front of Pochettino’s mind this whole issue is at the moment.
Genuinely, he appears to be at a crossroads in his career. Make no mistake – Pochettino is fiercely ambitious. He is also a football man who appreciates that Tottenham, with their limited budget, have been fair by him and are trying to do things – under his watch – in the right way.
So whatever he decides, he is clear in his own mind that as chairman of the whole shooting match, Levy himself is doing entirely the right things for Tottenham fans.
“He is creating a legacy that is going to be amazing for the future of the club,” he said. “I can see in the future Tottenham winning trophies.
“He is right to do what he is doing to try to provide this football club with all the facilities that we have and the foundations, that are going to help in the future to win. That is fantastic.
“The vision of the future is that Tottenham are going to be one of the most exciting clubs in the world. Not only in England. In the world.
Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium has seen several delays
“But I don’t know if that will be with us, or without us, in one year, in five years. It’s difficult because the people are talking about today, today, today. Today, the club is doing what the club need to do and I am so happy to be here.”
Pochettino revealed on Monday he would love to sit down with Arsene Wenger after he battled on at Arsenal while they moved to a new stadium and ask him if it was all worth it.
He is frustrated that he is being criticised for failing to win top honours while budget-wise he is over-achieving just by being regularly in the top four – in clear echoes of the end of Wenger’s reign following Arsenal’s 2006 move to the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger managed Arsenal from 1996 until 2018
I have massive respect for Arsene Wenger
“I have massive respect for Arsene Wenger,” said Pochettino. “That is why it is a little bit sad the way it ended at his club. It shows how difficult it is, this business.
“But for us it is not a business it is a passion. So for all that Arsene Wenger gave for Arsenal, to finish in the way it finished, yes, was a little bit unfair.
“One day I would like to ask him, ‘Was it worth it to do?’ I don’t know what he would say.”