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As Jose Mourinho so elegantly put it on Thursday afternoon, Real Madrid is on fire. The club sit a mammoth 19 points behind Barcelona in LaLiga and Thursday evening saw lowly Leganes eliminate Los Blancos from the Copa del Rey.
It was the fourth home defeat for Zinedine Zidane’s charges this term, these are the kind of results which do not fly in a Florentino Perez run Bernabeu, the French coach will have to produce something spectacular before the end of the season in order to keep his job.
This is where Mauricio Pochettino enters the conversation. The Argentine coach has done a phenomenal job at Tottenham Hotspur, however he will have a decision to make over his future because the defending European champions will offer him the job should Zidane’s tenure come to an untimely end.
Those in the Spanish capital have watched his progress for some time, their latest observation coming at rather close quarters when the two teams met in the group stage of this season’s Champions League.
Spurs were unbeaten against Real Madrid over two matches and in truth they were the better team across the 180 minutes. The 3-1 victory over Los Blancos at Wembley was probably the pinnacle of Pochettino’s time with the club to this point.
It emphasised Tottenham’s rise to Europe’s top table, even if they are yet to win silverware under his stewardship. They played like a team with lots of Champions League experience, they played in a way which Real Madrid simply couldn’t deal with, it was the perfect illustration for Perez that Pochettino should be the next man in at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Pochettino has made it abundantly clear that he wouldn’t coach Barcelona; however he was rather less committal when quizzed about possible interest from the Spanish capital.
“My commitment here is massive, I’m working as if I’ll be here forever,” he explained in his pre-match press conference.
“In the end though, you never know what is going to happen in football.
“I’m so clear, I’m never going to manage Barcelona or Arsenal because I so identify with Tottenham and Espanyol, that is my decision because I prefer to work on my farm in Argentina than work for some clubs.”
The fact that the former Southampton coach has spoken so glowingly of Spurs should be encouraging, however the chance to manage Real Madrid is something that doesn’t come along for every manager more than once.
Pochettino’s stock is incredibly high at this moment, yet it must be remembered that at this moment they are outside of the top four in the Premier League table.
Things can change so quickly in football, especially at a club like Tottenham. There are several external factors which are at play at the North London club at this moment with Daniel Levy’s ownership style one of them and the construction of a brand new state of the art stadium another.
The perceived wave structure at the club is interesting with it understood the club has been unwilling to play any of their stars a base salary in excess of £100,000 per week. Now of course these numbers are merely conjecture but it’s a well known fact that Tottenham players aren’t as well paid as their counterparts across the league.
Harry Kane is probably now level with Robert Lewandowski as the best number nine in the world, his goal record is outstanding and it seems likely that he will be the player to set the next world transfer record, especially if Levy has his way.
You can’t keep players like Kane and Dele Alli on salaries not befitting of their talent, as much as footballers are criticised for perceived greed and high salaries, if you don’t maximise your earnings in your prime years, then something is going wrong.
Levy has attempted to support Pochettino in the transfer market, more so than he has most other managers in his tenure, however there is still the issue of losing players.
Kyle Walker left in the summer; Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld are likely to follow in the summer of 2018. With Spurs unable to pay the transfer fees to replace those players, there is a worry that the team’s level will drop ahead of next season.
At Real Madrid the Argentine would be backed in the transfer market completely, Perez has been itching to make a statement signing for two years and it’s incredibly likely it will come in 2018.
Neymar, Kane, Eden Hazard and David de Gea have all been linked with moves to the Spanish capital, names that Pochettino cannot consider purchasing at Tottenham, Kane the exception as he is an academy graduate.
This level of support attracts managers; however there is the incredible demand for success that could deter Pochettino.
At Spurs there has been considerable patience with his work and we are all now seeing the rewards of such patience, at Real Madrid such patience is in short supply. Zinedine Zidane is facing an early dismissal despite the fact he won five trophies in the 2016/17 season, a run of success that has never before been seen at the club.
Pochettino could quite easily face similar pressures and is in a much safer job where he is at this time.
These are all things he needs to weigh up, it’s likely he will be offered the job and he must make a decision on his future, has he take Tottenham as far as he can? The summer will likely be a busy period for the North London club.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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