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‘These guys are serious’ – former Mauricio Pochettino player recalls the moment they were introduced to him and his staff

‘These guys are serious’ – former Mauricio Pochettino player recalls the moment they were introduced to him and his staff

Mauricio Pochettino

(Image credit: Getty)

Not only were many football fans surprised when Mauricio Pochettino became a Premier League manager back in 2013, some were completely outraged. 

While few knew much about the Argentine, it was widely believed that previous Southampton gaffer Nigel Atkinson was doing a sterling job during his debut campaign in the top-flight. Yet, with the club just above the relegation zone in January, Atkinson got the chop and former Espanyol manager Pochettino came in to replace him. 

In hindsight, the decision was vindicated, as Pochettino transformed Saints into a far more fluid, tactically intelligent outfit, before going on to secure his reputation as one of the game’s most exciting young coaches at Tottenham

And while fans sniffed during those first few days of Pochettino’s Southampton days, the players knew instantly they were on to a winner. 

“We met him on a very cold winter’s day,” former goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, one of the club’s senior players back then, tells FFT. “It was snowing, and Nicola [Cortese] asked a group of players to go and meet the new manager in a box at the stadium.

“My instant feeling was he had a big personality, a big presence. We came out of the room afterwards and thought, ‘These guys are serious’, because it wasn’t just Mauricio, it was his assistant Jesus Perez, his first-team coach Miguel D’Agostino and his goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez. They come as a package, almost like one person – they’re dedicated to each other, which is a massive strength.

“They spoke about the philosophy they wanted to introduce, the direction they wanted to go in. From the first training session, it was clear they knew exactly what they were doing.”

“I’ve had other managers where straight away it was, ‘Right, this is how I work’,” says Davis. “It wasn’t like that – he observed the team, then slowly built the direction of the squad in a strategic way. You always felt that if you stepped out of line, there’d be consequences, but he wasn’t looking for confrontation. He was very clever with how he managed people – he showed he was there to improve us, and we quickly realised he was doing exactly that.”

Pochettino left Spurs in November 2018 before managing Paris Saint-Germain to a league title and the French Cup. Now, he finds himself back in the Premier League with Chelsea. If what Davis says is true, Blues are in for a treat.

More Chelsea stories

Chelsea transfer news is starting to gather pace. 

The Blues have been linked with Sadio Mane, along with Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, in a bid to improve their squad, while Manuel Ugarte appears to be PSG-boundKylian Mbappe could be on the cards, too, while Andre Onana is still on the radar. 

Romelu Lukaku has also been mooted for a return to the squad, though outgoings are inevitable.

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Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany’s national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.

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