[OP-ED]: Pochettino spoils Guardiola’s streak again
Mauricio Pochettino is one of the best center backs I have ever seen play. Going on Sunday to the old Sarriá stadium in Barcelona to watch the brave Argentinean play was very exciting.
Pochettino arrived to the modest club of the Catalan capital in 1994. He immediately became a key player in the squad. He was excellent covering opposing strikers, but also scored many headers in free and corner kicks. The first tenure of the Argentinean defender with Español ended in great fashion. His team won the Spain’s Cup following the 2000 season by beating Atlético Madrid, 2-1, in the final contest.
After that, Pochettino played for a while in France, but came back to Barcelona to retire with Espanyol, winner another Spanish Cup in 2006 (4-1 against Zaragoza). All the club fans knew his absence was going to be a short one. With his great leading skills and knowledge of the game, he would soon become a well-respected manager.
And he did. Halfway through the 2009-09 season, Español was dead last in the Spanish league standings. The club executives decided to sign Pochettino as the manager. Their decision was the right one. The team quickly moved up and ended the season in 10th place.
The biggest heroic deed performed by the Argentinean was a huge upset of city’s rival FC Barcelona at its own Camp Nou stadium, 2-1. Two early goals by former Barça midfielder Iván de la Peña made the difference. Español broke a streak of 23 games without a loss that local manager Guardiola had coming into the contest.
After three seasons managing Español, Pochettino moved to the Premier League. He started coaching Southampton and has been Tottenham’s manager since 2014, bringing back the London squad to the elite of the Premier League. His top weapons are his leadership skills and the confidence he gives to young players. The Spurs are currently second in the English league ahead of powerhouses like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
This past weekend history was repeated in the first encounter between the two great managers on British soil. Guardiola traveled to London with a great Manchester City team that led the Premier League with 18 points in six games. The Spanish coach had not lost a game with his new club in 11 official outings.
But Mauricio found again the formula to spoil Pep’s streak. Two quick strikes scored by Serbian defender Aleksandar Kolarov (own goal) and young English midfielder sensation Dale Alli put Tottenham ahead in the first half. The scored did not move again and the London team recorded a huge, 2-0, victory by shooting out City for the first time this season.
As almost seven years ago, Guardiola saw his impressive streak end to a team managed by Pochettino. The only consolation for the genius Spanish coach is that in the season Barcelona was upset by Español at home, his team ended up winning the league.