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Pochettino’s ‘Master Class’ focuses on emotion, passion

Tottenham Hotspur manager says football has to be in one’s heart in order to excel at the top level.
Mauricio Pochettino, Manager Of English Premier League Side Tottenham Hotspur, Speaking At The Aspire Global Summit On Football Performance And Science In Doha On Monday
Mauricio Pochettino, manager of English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, speaking at the Aspire Global Summit on Football Performance and Science in Doha on Monday. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Unfazed by his team’s back-to-back defeats last week, and media speculations about a possible move out of White Hart Lane, Mauricio Pochettino was the epitome of confidence as he took a ‘Master Class’ to an elite audience at the Aspire Academy in Doha on Monday.

The Argentinian was speaking at the Aspire Global Summit on Football Performance and Science, attended by the representatives from some of the top clubs, national federations and other elite football professionals, including many of the Qatar Stars League managers as well as former international players Tim Cahill (Australia), Hernan Crespo and Santiago Solari (both Argentina).

Pochettino congratulated Aspire Academy for its “most amazing facilities and state-of-the-art football performance centre.”

He also congratulated the Qatar Football Association (QFA) for the Asian Cup triumph earlier this year. “I congratulate the QFA for the victory in the Asian Cup. Whenever I come here to Qatar and Aspire, I’m encouraged and struck by the vision, planning and the passion this country shows for sports development,” he said.

Aspire Academy Deputy Director General Ali Salem Afifa, Second Left, At The Aspire Global Summit On Football Performance And Science
Aspire Academy Deputy Director General Ali Salem Afifa, second left, at the Aspire Global Summit on Football Performance and Science. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Pochettino, who guided Spurs to the UEFA Champions League final in May, saw his team’s form nosedive to a new low last week when they suffered a humiliating 2-7 defeat to Bayern Munich and then lost 0-3 to Brighton in the Premier League.

“The recent results at Spurs have not been good. It’s for me and my coaching staff to find the tools to help the players regain the form and mentality that got us the positive results during the last season,” he said.

The former Southampton manager, who is known for his special ability to blood youngsters, spoke at length about various aspects of coaching and other “small details that make big things”.

“To me football used to be a contest of emotions, then it became a passion, but now I’m obsessed with it,” said Pochettino. “My coaching philosophy is derived from this and it’s the love for football that drives my life.”

He said modern football managers have huge responsibilities vested in them.

“Today’s managers have massive responsibilities towards developing a player. He not only has to keep the players motivated but also has to inspire them. Sometimes he has to teach the player to stay self-motivated as well.

“A coach has to play different roles – that of a teacher, father or brother. He has to resort to science and technology as well to improve the players,” he said.

Aspire Academy Director General Ivan Bravo Welcoming The Delegates At The Aspire Global Summit On Football Performance And Science
Aspire Academy Director General Ivan Bravo welcoming the delegates at the Aspire Global Summit on Football Performance and Science. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The former Espanyol centre-back urged his audience, representing various stakeholders in football industry, to move out of their comfort zones and strive hard to make the future bright.

“Past is past and we’re working in the present. If you think everything is fine today, then you can’t improve. You’ve to get out of your comfort zone to make the future better,’’ he said.

Pochettino stated that fans were very vital and sometimes they put the teams and coaches under pressure.

“Fans are very important in football, but as much as they can fire you up, they can also put you under pressure. It’s very important to learn how to manage the pressure,” he said.

Pochettino underlined the significance of technology and use of data when it comes to analysing the team’s training, rival strategy and post-match scrutiny.

He explained the importance of set-pieces, defensive strategies and flawless goalkeeping and the need to take special care of individual players.

“Football is a team game where there’s collective input and responsibility, but you’ve to take care of the individuals,” he concluded.

Earlier, Aspire Academy Director General Ivan Bravo welcomed the gathering. With the help of a video presentation, which was a real blast from the past, Bravo took the audience through the Academy’s history and achievements.

Valter Di Salvo, Executive Director, Aspire Academy, also addressed the gathering.