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 By Kevin Palmer
Aug 18, 2014

Spurs adopt the Pochettino way

After marquee names such as Louis van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti were linked with the oft-vacant position of Tottenham Hotspur head coach last summer, the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino was a little underwhelming for some of the club's supporters.

While Pochettino had earned respect in English football for his fine work with Southampton, his stature and status was not comparable to that of Van Gaal or Ancelotti, and as a result, the level of expectations were suitably dampened by some Spurs supporters as chairman Daniel Levy's latest chief tactician was handed a five-year contract.

A year after Tottenham made a determined bid to build a side equipped to challenge for top honours by spending more than 100 million pounds in recruiting a host of new players following the record-breaking sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, an atmosphere of modest optimism has prevailed around Tottenham this time around, and that may play into Pochettino's hands.

After a battling win at West Ham gave Pochettino a flying start to his career as Tottenham boss last Saturday, we look at five reasons why Levy's eighth permanent selection as Spurs boss has every chance to enjoy a little more longevity in the post than those who have gone before him.

Pochettino the task master

From the moment Pochettino drove through the gates at Southampton's Staplewood training base in January 2013, the atmosphere and professionalism among the Saints players changed in an instant.

While Saints supporters were surprised by Saints chairman Nicola Cortese's decision to replace the seemingly popular Nigel Adkins after he helped the club secure back-to-back promotions and reclaim a place in the Premier League, the players he left behind quickly appreciated why the change had been made.

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Pochettino's presence at the training ground every morning at 7 a.m. or earlier highlighted his passion for the job, with the demands he put on the players leaving them in little doubt that they belonged in the Premier League and were not merely new boys attempting to find their feet.

One source at Southampton has told ESPN that there were days when Pochettino demanded three training sessions (10 a.m.-midday, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m.), with each being conducted with an intensity demanded by the man at the top.

In an era when footballers are used to finishing training and heading home at around 1 p.m. each day, resentment might have been expected in response to such long working hours. That it wasn't forthcoming during his time with the Southampton players said much about the support the Pochettino method received from his players.

The Pochettino team

The tightly-knit coaching team of Jesus Perez, Miguel D'Agostino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez followed Pochettino from Southampton to Spurs, with their influence in his setup almost as significant as that of the frontman they answer to.

Perez has risen through the ranks under Pochettino, initially working for him in his days as Espanyol boss as a first-team analyst, and then following him to Southampton. A sounding board who is noted for putting on inventive training sessions, he was a popular figure among the Saints players before his departure.

D'Agostino did some scouting for Pochettino during his Espanyol days and also accepted an offer to join him at Southampton before he joined Tottenham this summer, while former Spain stopper Jimenez has followed a similar path, working with 'Poch' at his past two clubs before he replaced Tony Parks as Spurs goalkeeping coach this summer.

Pochettino's renowned dedication to his work, if replicated by this trio of coaches, form a unit that leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of success.

"There was no game we played last season when we didn't know everything about our opponents," one Southampton player told ESPN. "Poch and his staff can take the credit for that."

Jesus Perez, left, has been Mauricio Pochettino's trusty assistant at Espanyol, Southampton and now Spurs.

Pochettino the politician

"The manager has come in and is doing something that most of the players have never done before," said former Spurs captain Ledley King. "Speaking to the players, it's obvious preseason has been tough but enjoyable.

"They can see where the manager wants to go with this. It's not just hard work for the sake of hard work -- it has a motive behind it."

The words of the respected King sums up the mood that has prevailed around Tottenham in the buildup to this new season. There have been no gripes from disgruntled players leaking in the media, no discontent evident to the outside world. This is part of the Pochettino edict.

If you are loyal to him and play by his rules, you will be treated as an equal. Southampton players confirm that what he says to a player in person will be followed through with his decisions on a match day, and players appreciate that kind of honesty.

The Pochettino way

The five-year contract handed to Pochettino by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was something of a break with tradition for a decision-maker who is not renowned for his long-term approach to hiring and firing managers.

Clearly, the message sent out by Levy with his latest appointment was that he hopes it will be his last for some time, and in truth, hiring Pochettino has to be a project that is given time to flourish.

The Argentine tactician has spoken time and again about developing a philosophy and instilling his methods into the Spurs players in his first few weeks at the club, and the demands he puts on his employees means he needs time to discover who is equipped to fulfill the charter he promotes.

Pochettino is known for the pressing game he asks his players to embrace, with the levels of fitness and commitment required to successfully play in his way demanding for all working under him.

Evidence that he is already influencing the Spurs players could be seen with their tireless display in the win at West Ham on Saturday, with their energy and work-rate helping to compensate for the loss of Kyle Naughton to an early red card. More of the same can be expected in the coming months.

New recruit Eric Dier slotted the match-winning goal late in Saturday's game against West Ham.

Pochettino's Tottenham targets

Conducting his press conferences in English and without the reliance on the translator he used at Southampton ticks the first of his targets at Spurs, after his new employers encouraged him to use his non-native tongue when addressing the media.

Pochettino spoke in English with the players at Southampton soon after his arrival at the club, yet his decision to take that step and become a frontman with a voice for his new club confirms he is keen to step out of his comfort zone and make the most of his opportunity at Tottenham.

All concerned have stressed that he does not need to secure a top-four finish in his first season at the club to hang on to his job, and while Pochettino would not be foolish enough to set himself that target personally, those who have worked with him will confirm his desire to work in the Champions League with Tottenham.

It may seem as if the teams that finished ahead of Spurs in the top four of last season's Premier League are favoured to finish ahead of them once more, but Pochettino is not a manager who allows an inferiority complex to filter into a dressing room he controls.

He may ultimately come up short in the bid to guide his new club back to the promised land of the Champions League, yet Pochettino has proved in his brief spell in English football that his brand of forceful, persuasive, inventive and demanding football can produce results. Tottenham fans have reason to be optimistic all over again.

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