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May 27, 2014

Spurs, Levy must back Pochettino in full

FC's Steve Nicol assesses Spurs' signing of new manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs didn't get too much right last season but since it ended, they haven't put a foot wrong.

First off, they didn't prolong Tim Sherwood's agony, cutting him loose within a couple of days of the final game. Now they have acted decisively by appointing Mauricio Pochettino in his place. No matter that Pochettino was always the odds-on favourite: Spurs have been there before with odds-on favourites and failed to land their man. This time the deal has been done swiftly and the uncertainty has been removed. Pochettino has plenty of time to get to know everyone at the club and win the trust of the players before the start of the season.

With any luck, he might even know his best team by August.

So far so good, but whether Pochettino is actually the right man for the job is harder to answer. He comes with a decent pedigree, having turned unfancied Southampton into one of the most attractive sides in the Premier League outside those for whom money is no object. Better still, he was able to get his squad to play in the way he wanted -- something Andre Villas-Boas tried and failed to do at Spurs -- and inspire them to play above themselves.

The caveat here is expectation. Many managers have a flair for being the underdog. They prefer it, even. There is no burden of expectation and few big egos that need constant massaging. Everyone is in it together. At Spurs it won't be like that. The club isn't as big as it and its fans often like to think it is, but it is a significant step up from Southampton. Spurs have a history but more importantly, it also has a future. The building of the new stadium is imminent and the club needs success on the pitch to guarantee its long-term financial security. Building a 60,000 seater stadium for the odd Europa League game against the runners-up from the Moldovan Premier League is not what chairman Daniel Levy has in mind.

- Report: Pochettino signs five-year deal - Palmer: Pressure's on - Rann: Saints as a crossroads

In other words, remaining in the club's present league position of sixth is not an option for Pochettino. To do so would constitute failure. To be considered a success, he has to either win a cup or finish fourth in the Premier League, a tough -- and possibly even unattainable -- target. But it's the expectation and it's what Pochettino is getting paid four million pounds per year to do. He's being given the chance to test himself at a higher level and he's taking it.

Crucial to Pochettino's success will be how the club manages him. For a club with big ideas, Spurs often display a small club mentality by getting twitchy if things don't work out immediately. Spurs have given Pochettino a five-year contract; it would be nice if for once a five-year contract meant what it actually said. Chopping and changing managers every few years has got Spurs nowhere; now is the time to show some patience and let Pochettino get on with the job. It may be frustrating and he may make mistakes, but we all know what happens when the club gets trigger happy at the first whiff of trouble.

Spurs have appointed Pochettino. Now they have to back him.

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