A few days ago, Mauricio Pochettino paid a visit to White Hart Lane. The new stadium is still not ready: like Achilles and the turtle, the closer to the deadline, the more cheesy it shuffles into the future. Initially, it was to be completed in time at the beginning of the season, then in autumn, and then in December, now they even say that it can be even February. But anyway, it's close: close enough to feel real. And when Pochettino circled the deserted area, she felt that she was not only checking the devices for scrolling or counting USB charging points, but visualizing: imagining, absorbing, trying to assess the energy in the place where she will call home soon.
As always with Pochettino, it comes back to it. Ever since he was a child, he believed in a significant invisible force called "universal energy": a kind of aura that drives the world and everyone and everything in it. People have energy, but also places, as well as moments and situations. "Decisions, personal relationships and absolutely everything else are a matter of energy," he writes in his book Brave New World. "From those early days I had the opportunity to see something powerful that can not be seen but exists." And as the only man in English football who saw the potential of Moussa Sissoko 18 months ago, it might be worth listening to him.
By the time you read that Pochettino is holding a bowl of lemons at his office in Enfield, because he believes they absorb negative energy from the room, you may wonder if Tottenham manager would benefit from such intervention that would save him from the life of transparent crystals, worship of solstice and virgin sacrifice. On the other hand, when you change the most inconsistent Premier League club into the Champions League, maybe it's better not to tinker. Or, to put it simply: it is possible that Pochettino will find something here.
The point is. Among the English and even European football elite, it is difficult to imagine a club whose fate is so inseparable from the whims and moods of one man. Pep Guardiola did not build a modern Manchester City; He is just a guy in control. Lionel Messi wants everyone to leave him alone so he can be really good at football. Even in Liverpool, the relationship between fans and Jurgen Klopp is best characterized as a kind of vibrating dialectic, a drunken drum where it is never clear who is divine and who is a champion.
In Spurs, however, there is no competition. Pochettino is that. He is the weather. When he flows, everyone is radiating. When he looks a little gray and subconsciously, his team plays gray, over-zealous football, and the fans become conceited and irritable. The best thing about running a club on a "universal union" is that it just costs a penny. For decades, the students of the bold new era of Tottenham will be delighted with how the entire club has been basically reworked on the basis of one guy who walked and told everyone how wonderful it was.
For most of the season Spurs did not look amazing. The new elegant stadium turned into an extremely expensive albatross. None of the players was signed throughout the summer, and Tottenham's rivals were generously reinforced (well, everyone was judging Fred at the time). The World Cup burned half of Pochettin's composition into scales. The injuries were biting. Many of their best players did not look so close to their best form. A series of defeats put them on the brink of elimination of the Champions League. For a manager who has built up his entire career cleansing all traces of negative energy, this is a task that occasionally goes beyond even the transcendental, citrus powers of Pochettino.
On Saturday night, Chelsea will be the last guests at Wembley, where Tottenham is still pathetic on the couch. How must he feel in the Pochettino conflict when he looks at the city with a ghastly, joyful greeting from their cigarette-smoking, pressure-exhaling, ascetic Maurizio Sarri. Admired, beloved and showered with transfer funds, Sarri draws from the main advantage of the new coach: he is not old. Equally important, as the courage of his football vision is his freshness: a short, sharp shock that managers of the fifth season, such as Pochettino, can only watch with nostalgia.
When Sarri was in Napoli, Pochettino celebrated him as one of the leading trainers in the world, and his team as one of the most beautiful in the world. Now he is a direct rival, he needs a slightly different approach. "This season they compete again in the European League," he remarked dryly on Thursday. "It is very different for Manchester City, United, Liverpool or for us because we are competing in the Champions League, of course, Chelsea has an incredible team. This summer, they have invested, signed high-quality players, added to the squad, they have one more point than us. . "
The shadow was subtle but unmistakable. Sometimes, when Tottenham worked on another 1-0 win against the worse opposition or suffered an inevitable failure with a club that could probably buy it several times, you wonder if Pochettino is ultimately not designed for one of these other, more conventional clubs: where billionaires buy wonderfully exciting players as a moral surrogate, where trophies always flowed like champagne. It's a kind of club where you do not have to pretend to be clenched teeth that you were delighted with today's performance by Eric Dier. Where the tides do not rise and fall depending on which side of the bed you leave this morning, where you do not have to be happy all the time, where you do not have to swallow the mortal fear that your only good attacker will be hurt because you can just leave and buy another one.
But then you listen to Pochettino talking about his visit to the stadium this week, and you remember that he sees the world and the game in a different way than the rest of us. "We are very excited," he said. "We can not wait to move in. My idea is to move as fast as possible, if we can move tomorrow, then tomorrow, but I know it's difficult, if not in January, in February, I think it's so close. I was there and it is * so close *. "
If you want to find a positive aura, you can see it anywhere. Tottenham looked heavily working for most of the season, but it was still the best start in the Premier League era. There are only five points out of the lead. People like Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min are getting bored again. Jan Vertonghen came back because of injury. Sissoko begins to play like Graeme Souness. Erik Lamela is good again. A few miles away, in the place of their former home, a phoenix rises from the debris. You can probably offer an important counterpoint to any of the above. But, as Pochettino himself has undoubtedly put it, it is a matter of energy: you can not see it. Sometimes you just have to feel.
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