He Left Me

It seems to have been a general theme in my life as of lately, it was a decision out of my hands. We can stop change from happening just about as much as we can stop the waves from hitting the shore. It’s one of life’s constants.

Things change.

People leave.

People come into your life.

But I have yet to fully embrace the fact that Mauricio Pochettino left me- sorry left us, left our club, our team.

Mauricio Pochettino, manager, Tottenham Hotspur, Tottenham, football,
Picture source credit

The departure did not come as a surprise. Ever since that dreadful game in Madrid, it was as if the air had gone out, of everyone. How could it not? Against all odds, almost touching the stars –  only to stumble on the finish line. It was a collective failure and a collective hurt, but I have a hard time seeing anyone beating themselves up more than Pochettino did. That man wears his heart on his sleeve, and that night it was shattered into a million pieces.

Before him, there had been a few flings, but nothing ever materialised into something serious. None of the suitors made a long-lasting impression until one day, Mauricio stood in the doorway. With his friendly smile and high press coaching style, you could quickly tell that this was a man that demanded excellence but promised nothing short of everything he had in return. He’d previously had quite an earnest thing with Espanyol, a club he both played for and coached, before his stint in Southampton that generated promising results and proved him as a coach that could develop talent. But he was still unproven, having only spent 18 months as a coach in England and struggling with the language. Despite this Tottenham, starved of a firm hand that knew what it wanted, yet could provide a gentle touch when needed, took a chance on him and what unfolded during the next five years was an epic romance. The appointment of Mauricio was a game-changer for life as we knew it as Tottenham fans. It was a love story that needed to be told. Turns out that sometimes the only language you need is the universal one of football.

Mauricio Pochettino

The appointment of Jose Mourinho being announced only the morning after Mauricio’s departure felt like a betrayal. We were not even given time to mourn. Instead of the focus being on Mauricio’s great contributions to the club and the way that he’d transformed the team, the whole football world was talking about how bizarre Mourinho’s appointment was. I just felt like screaming.

When I saw that Mauricio had turned down a move to Barcelona, I had a moment fully overcome with pride. The man wouldn’t take over one of the biggest teams in the world, because of a sense of duty to his old club Espanyol, who are city rivals to Barca. Next moment hit me in the stomach like a disguised right-swinged punch. This was a very clear indication that he had returned from his little wine-drinking get-away in Argentina, and that he was back out on the market. If he was being touted by the likes of Barcelona, he was definitely available to other clubs. But not to us, not to me. The realisation came with an overwhelming feeling of grief, having lost someone so dear to so many.

But I will remember, I will never forget. Together with many other Spurs fans, I suspect that the memory of Mauricio’s reign at Spurs will live on for a long time.