Under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham were idealistic romantics

Thus, Tottenham reached a national cup final for the first time since 2015. Good days.

It took a header from Moussa Sissoko and a brilliant team goal ended by Son Heung-min to book their day at Wembley at the expense of Brentford on Tuesday night. This trip to northwest London might seem a little more special if Spurs hadn’t played at the national stadium for a season and a half in recent memory, but it is.

Most importantly, it’s a cup final and the chance to bring silverware back to Enfield for the first time since 2008. 2008! Cor, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

Tottenham had a rough time in December, drawing league games with Crystal Palace and Wolves and losing to Liverpool and Leicester. Things suddenly turned bleak, and rightly so. The performances weren’t the most glittering, so when the results match them, it feels like you’re looking into the heart of a black hole.

But they’re only four points behind in the Premier League with one game underway, are well placed in the Europa League, and have a final date set aside for April if we haven’t mentioned that already.

But one of the more interesting questions that arose during Tuesday night’s celebrations was whether reaching a Carabao Cup final justified Tottenham’s decision in 2019 to sack Mauricio Pochettino and bring in Jose Mourinho.

Back then, your average Spurs fan’s answer would have been no. Now? It’s always a divisive subject, and you’ll get a variety of responses from fans still reflecting on the fate of their former manager at the club and those who have fully embraced Mourinho’s ‘win at all costs’ philosophy.

The reality is that hypocrisy is not something that should be used to criticize Tottenham supporters for celebrating the final.

Pochettino was a romantic. He was the closest of all Tottenham managers to embody the quote “At Spurs we aim very high, so even failure will echo glory” since the club’s most iconic boss Bill Nicholson, proposed it.

Interestingly, Nicholson also once joked, “If you don’t win anything, you’ve had a bad season.” It’s more of a Mourinho quality.

Mauricio Pochettino
Pochettino after Tottenham’s Ajax win in 2019 | Chris Brunskill / Fantasista / Getty Images

Supporting a football club means supporting its manager and, in turn, its philosophy. So when Pochettino admitted openly enough that he was not interested in winning the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup and instead intended to become a Premier League or Champions League winner, fans have rightly supported it.

If you had seen Pochettino at the White Hart Lane closing ceremony or his reaction to reaching the Champions League semi-finals and then the final, how could you not buy into his approach? You might not have understood a word of what he meant when he started talking about cows and stations at one particular press conference, but you bought into it anyway. Why? Because he was your director.

This particular passion is not quite shared by Mourinho’s game plan. Instead, you start every clearance and clearly head over every cross as Spurs try to maintain a slim lead. When that final whistle comes, it’s more of a relief than the more enthusiastic “we can crush anyone” feeling seeing a Pochettino side beat rival teams.

But the only key here is that you don’t have to think of one as a failure to support the other. At Pochettino, Tottenham fans had one of the most romantic and passionate managers in modern gaming, who took his team and fans on brilliant journeys, and just because there wasn’t had no trophy at the end of these trips. This means that none of them were worth taking. Heck, Tottenham’s motto is literally ‘daring is doing’, so at least Pochettino has gone all out to try to win a Premier League or Champions League title.

There is a clear ethical difference between the two managers. Mourinho has used the League Cup before to build a winning mentality in his former clubs, triumphing in the competition four times, and in two of those seasons he has won the league.

That being said, Mourinho clearly won’t consider his time at Tottenham a success if he wins a Carabao Cup and nothing else. It would be a failure.

José Mourinho, Son Heung-Min, Moussa Sissoko
Sissoko and Son’s goals saw Tottenham overtake Brentford | Clive Rose / Getty Images

But if he can win that first trophy under his belt, it just might help the former Chelsea boss achieve bigger things in north London, and we can still benefit from Pochettino winning plenty of Ligue 1 titles in same time.

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