Despite firmly establishing Tottenham Hotspur as a Champions League club and reaching the final last year, Mauricio Pochettino has been fired after five years in charge at the club.
A disappointing start to this season that sees Spurs sit 14th and without an away win in the league since January has prompted the move.
“We were extremely reluctant to make this change. It is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” said Spurs chairman Daniel Levy in a statement on the club’s website.
“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing. It falls on the board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the club’s best interests.”
Appointed in 2014 having led Southampton to their best ever Premier League finish, Spurs finished fifth in Pochettino’s first season in charge before finishing third in 2015/16 – the club’s highest ever position.
Runners-up to Chelsea the following season before another third-place finish had put Tottenham among the Premier League title challengers but on a fraction of the budget of their rivals.
League Cup finalists in his first year and a run to the final of the Champions League last season left a trophy agonisingly out of Pochettino’s reach.
There was clearly a need to renovate the squad but tied by the club’s economic model Pochettino was unable to do so and this season’s form suggests things have gone stale. Given what the Argentinian has achieved at the club, during what could have been a tricky period playing home games at Wembley during the construction of the new stadium, blame can hardly be attributed to Pochettino and perhaps patience was needed.
Certainly reports that Jose Mourinho being lined up as Pochettino’s replacement would appear at odds with Daniel Levy’s approach in the market.
Regardless, the worst run of form since George Graham was in charge in 2000-01, a League Cup exit to League Two side Colchester and a 7-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League left a sense that something had to give. Sadly for Pochettino it was never likely to be the purse strings at the club.
“Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history,” added Levy.
“I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here.
“We have a talented squad. We need to re-energise and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”
Pochettino has proved himself to undoubtedly be one of the best coaches in Europe and will surely not be out of work long.