Real Madrid eat managers… So Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino must stay put
- Mauricio Pochettino must stay at Tottenham and overcome this difficult season
- Real Madrid are manager eaters and he is at the core of the Tottenham project
- Sir Elton John is a good judge of talent after suggesting Watford buy Tom Heaton
- It is a positive Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha wants to maintain his dad’s legacy
- FIFA president Gianni Infantino is no different to former chief Sepp Blatter
For Tottenham, for Mauricio Pochettino, this is a moment in time. That’s all it is.
The embarrassing state of the Wembley pitch against Manchester City, the empty upper tier, the tumbleweed transfer window, the travails at home and in Europe. It is a snapshot of one difficult season, no more.
Obviously, it is frustrating: but it is still not the reason to jump ship for Real Madrid.
If Tottenham were stuck in the era of selling their best players each year, that would be different; if Pochettino felt Daniel Levy had deliberately misled him over the new stadium, and always knew Tottenham would be at Wembley for the best part of two years, he would be right to feel betrayed; and if the club had not tried to do transfer business this summer, Pochettino could rightly claim his best advice was ignored.
Mauricio Pochettino must stay at Tottenham and overcome this one difficult season
Yet none of that is happening.
Tottenham have made mistakes, yes; the club have suffered misfortune beyond their control, true. But the project exists, visible and viable, with Pochettino integral to it.
Could the same be said of Real Madrid? No.
Pochettino would be just another hired hand, passing through. If it didn’t work he could be gone in months, like Julen Lopetegui.
Even if it did work, Madrid’s standards are impossibly demanding. Zinedine Zidane lasted just under two-and-a-half years, in which he won the Champions League three times, and still had to withstand speculation about his job.
Madrid are manager eaters. Since the departure of Vicente del Bosque in 2003, they have had 14, only three of whom have made it past 100 matches, with only two more lasting past 50.
Tottenham cannot afford to be wanton. With the changes the club are making, they need stability, they need a coach with vision and faith in young talent.
Pochettino is perfect for them, the way Arsene Wenger was for Arsenal two decades ago.
It just requires patience to get through this year.
Maybe Pochettino does not fancy the longest of long terms.
Real Madrid are keen for him to replace Julen Lopetegui but Los Blancos are manager eaters
For a foreign coach, Wenger’s shift at Arsenal was unique. But even short term, there is still so much to do. Win a trophy, obviously. In its own way, it is surprising that serially successful Madrid are so keen on a manager who has a record of improving teams, without receiving that ultimate vindication.
Yet there is more to the Tottenham project than just that. The club must be guided to their new stadium and settled in. They need a manager who understands the singular demands. Pochettino is that man, in a way he could never be at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid do not have a plan beyond winning everything. And if the manager can’t win everything, the manager goes.
The gloom that surrounds Tottenham for now isn’t permanent. It is not as if they are going to be playing on an NFL pitch in front of empty seats 12 months from now. This is one setback — albeit hardly a small one — in what has otherwise been an extraordinarily positive journey.
Pochettino spoke of being at a low ebb coming into this week, but only heightened expectations have made that so.
By now, he hoped to be in a new stadium, with new players, and challenging for the title. So he’s disappointed. But Madrid can leave a man unfulfilled too.
Ask Julen Lopetegui, and a queue of others.
Return to normality is Top’s task
In a terrible week for Leicester City, the one sliver of light comes with the news that Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, otherwise known as Top, intends to maintain the legacy and vision of his father, Vichai.
This journey begins on Saturday in Cardiff, when Leicester will play their first match since Saturday’s tragedy. The players will travel to Wales by coach on Friday, club officials having cancelled a planned flight, feeling it inappropriate in the circumstances.
It is to be hoped that Top can, from here, provide guidance on what has to be a return to normality.
There would have been no disrespect in Leicester flying to Cardiff, no matter the circumstances of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death. He is not defined by his passing, but by his leadership and generosity in eight years as Leicester’s owner.
Indeed, Top, and the rest of the family, flew into Britain at the start of the week, and will fly back to Thailand on Friday for the funeral ceremony. Leicester’s players could have flown, too.
The match in Cardiff is the start of a long road to recovery and a significant part of that must see Leicester becoming just a football club again. As such, if they need to take a plane, take a plane. It seems fair to presume it is what The Boss would have wanted.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha intends to maintain the legacy and vision of his father, Vichai
Not all pitch invaders want a selfie
When Manchester United played Juventus last week there were three pitch invaders.
All were presumed to be seeking a selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo, and one even got lucky. As he was being manhandled away by stewards he managed to hand the player his smart phone, and Ronaldo obliged.
The chap in the seat next to mine was outraged at the rough treatment. ‘Come on,’ he shouted, ‘they’re only kids.’
They were a bit older than kids, actually, but no matter who they were, stewards cannot allow intruders to roam free. What if they do nothing and the first fan gets his selfie? Then another comes on; then another. What if 100 fans decide they want a selfie with Ronaldo; or 1,000?
Anything that is not stopped is encouraged. There was a pitch invader at West Ham on Wednesday, then a second late in the game. People are copy cats — that’s how these encroachments start. A handful get on, others follow.
And what if, among that number, is not a fan who loves Ronaldo, but one who loathes him and wishes him harm? How are stewards to identify that individual, amid a melee?
Now, it transpires that one of the intruders may not have been so harmless after all. He had toy guns in the backpack he left at his seat, and has subsequently been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
He may just be a person with an illness who meant no harm. Even so, we cannot presume that every pitch invader intends nothing more nefarious than saying cheese.
Friday night: a masked pitch invader on the field with West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku
We all relate to Bobby
Lena Dunham is one of the finest writers of her generation. Her HBO show, Girls, was by turns funny, insightful, poignant and raw.
For this reason, when Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams decided to adapt the book A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea, they commissioned Dunham to write the script. And then the backlash started.
The book, written by Melissa Fleming, head of communications for the United Nations Refugee Agency, tells the true story of Doaa al-Zamel, a Syrian refugee who survived the sinking of her boat in the Mediterranean in which hundreds died, including her fiance.
Dunham is neither Syrian, nor a refugee. So, in the present climate she is considered unsuitable to tell this particular story. Just as straight actors are admonished for playing gay roles, and it was considered unnatural that Gordon Ramsay should explore the world of Indian cuisine.
We’re getting dumber. This week, the co-curator of an event at the Royal Society of Arts, celebrating the life of England’s first black, female footballer, explained why she wishes to see a statue of Emma Clarke erected at Wembley.
Bobby Moore gets a statue outside Wembley because of a wonderful accomplishment
‘When I take my nieces along Wembley Way and they see a statue of Bobby Moore, they don’t relate to it,’ said Michelle Moore. ‘If they see a statue of Emma Clarke, they are going to want to have their photo taken.’
Really? Bobby Moore is England’s only World Cup-winning captain. Wembley was where England won the World Cup. Clarke died in 1905, 18 years before it was even built. So, are we truly raising generations that can only relate to people exactly like them?
This would mean a trailblazer such as Clarke, who played for British Ladies in 1895, would only be of interest to black women. And that isn’t true.
As a species, we are interested in each other. Libraries, museums, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, all full of works dedicated to humanity’s fascination with other humans, their lives and motivations, regardless of creed and gender.
And, certainly, in the world of sport, we are inspired by human achievement.
Bobby Moore doesn’t get a statue because he is white, or male. He gets a statue because of a wonderful accomplishment, one that should be relatable to all.
And, if it isn’t, we really need to start looking at our educators, of which Michelle Moore is one.
Infantino is just a balder Blatter
Gianni Infantino is performing the impossible. He’s making people pine for the days of Sepp Blatter.
Infantino has all the same rotten traits as his predecessor: the greed, the terrible ideas, the abhorrent companions, but he fronts it out with an unseemly smugness — as if he is the new broom sweeping clean.
And, like Blatter, he fancies himself as a statesman. What else could be behind his desire to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams, by taking it beyond the borders of Qatar? Infantino claims to be discussing this prospect with ‘our Qatari friends and our many friends in the region’.
And no-one has mentioned the blockade? No-one has mentioned that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, all believe Qatar is guilty of supporting terrorism and wants nothing to do with them? Or does Infantino believe he can deal with this schism, and bring the factions together? This is what happens when a man is completely surrounded by sycophancy.
Infantino isn’t a noble political thinker. He’s a greedy corporate shill, a great vampire squid, and the discord in the Gulf is hindering his prime motivation: making money. He’s no different; just balder.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is making people pine for the days of Sepp Blatter
Be and England fan? You must be barmy
The Barmy Army? They must be. What person of sound mind would stand for being treated as appallingly as England’s cricket fans? To begin with, daily prices for tourists in Sri Lanka were set at £50 per ticket, when the locals pay £1.41.
Then, the one-day section of the tour was scheduled in the rainy season, meaning six of the first seven games were weather affected.
Now, supporters have been placed in a catch-22 position by the combined incompetence of the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and the Earl’s Regency hotel in Pallekele, venue of the second Test.
The board claim to have booked 80 of the 104 rooms at the Earl’s Regency for the Test, which begins on November 14.
Both teams and their support staff wish to be accommodated there. Maybe they failed to pay a deposit, though, because the hotel double-booked with many of the travelling fans’ groups and are refusing to honour the board’s arrangements.
At the moment, England have a contingency reservation two hours away, with talk of coming in by helicopter. For obvious reasons, this is considered highly unsatisfactory.
Meanwhile, the board are meeting representatives of tour groups in an attempt to persuade them to switch their clients to inferior locations, with the promise of hospitality at the match.
The threat is that if the Earl’s Regency does not become available, the Test may be moved to Colombo anyway.
So here’s the choice. Decamp to lesser accommodation, or stay where you are and we’ll move the cricket to a ground four hours away.
It is appalling and contemptuous treatment, made worse by the fact the ECB do so little to mediate.
It is often bemoaned that Test crowds are poor these days. If the experience of England’s fans in Sri Lanka is anything to go by, it is a miracle anyone is there at all.
England fans who have travelled to watch the tour of Sri Lanka have been let down by the ECB
Not a bad judge, Sir Elton John. ‘Tom Heaton, I’d still buy him, Ben Foster is too inconsistent,’ he texted after Watford’s 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth.
Leaving Foster aside, he’s right about Heaton. He was arguably the best goalkeeper in the country before his injury and, if Burnley are willing to sell in January, remains a great option for any Premier League club in need.
Sir Elton John texted a Watford official that Tom Heaton should be signed to replace Ben Foster
Geraint Thomas has been talking about his experiences with Team Sky at the Tour de France. ‘In the peloton I think everyone respects us,’ he said. ‘But the media and some fans don’t like the dominance.’
Why doesn’t he just say ‘the French’? We know he means ‘the French’. He knows he means ‘the French’.
Sky’s success is killing them and everyone knows it. Say ‘the French’.
Mourinho verdict leaves FA cursing
Seeing as the whole process is set up so that a charge is as good as a guilty verdict, it must have come as a great shock to the FA to lose their first major disciplinary hearing since 2013 this week. A three-member committee heard the case of using abusive, insulting or improper language against Jose Mourinho, and returned a verdict of not proven. Understandably so.
It needed a Portuguese-speaking lip-reader to determine that Mourinho was swearing at his critics, when a camera was pushed in his face after the narrow win over Newcastle.
Manchester United presented a detailed defence, citing the example of Jordan Henderson swearing, audibly and obviously, while playing for England in Croatia, with no comeback.
Mourinho is not a victim of a media manhunt, as he believes, but here at least he has a case.
Old Trafford has an unusual geography with its long walk along the touchline to the tunnel in the corner, and a camera zooming in on the face of an unhappy manager and walking with him is a frequent event. Is it any wonder, in the circumstances, that Mourinho is captured in a volatile mood?
Yes, a degree of decorum is required, but also, perhaps, greater understanding of the pressure involved.
Jose Mourinho has avoided punishment for an alleged expletive-laden outburst at Old Trafford
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