Since their appointments, both Klopp and Pochettino have had very similar tasks in many ways. Both of them came into their jobs with top-4 qualification as their biggest objective in the first couple of seasons. Although fans hoped that at some stage, their teams would become title contenders under them, no practical supporter in their right mind would have expected immediate results.
Klopp inherited a team that had consistently struggled to make the top 4 over the last 8-10 years. Moreover, with the history of the club not winning the Premier league since 1990 looming large behind him, he knew his primary task was to bring about some semblance of consistency very soon. In his first season-in-charge, the club finished in 8th place, but more importantly, had a shot at two trophies – The League Cup and the Europa League. Although he failed to win either of them, Klopp brought what was lacking immensely at Liverpool – hope, and a sense of optimism that may be, just may be things would finally start to look brighter. Since then, he has taken Liverpool to two top-4 finishes, a Premier league runners-up medal, and 2 Champions league finals, with the second of those to be played in a couple of days from now. Although he has still not brought any silverware to Liverpool, he has been an instant hit with the fans, who love his trademark celebrations more than anything else.
With Klopp came a huge influx of infectious passion, energy and drive that has slowly but surely been passed on to the players. Players such as Jordan Henderson and Firmino have taken their games several notches up, while youngsters such as Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson have become integral to the team. Add to this, the astute purchases of Van Dijk and Allison, Liverpool, under Klopp now have an army of men ready to take on any opposition.
Lack of Silverware!
But better than anyone else on the planet, Klopp knows that he will be judged only by one metric – the amount of silverware, especially a Premier League title, he brings to Liverpool. Although that has to wait a little longer, what awaits him and the club is the chance to become Europe’s best. Success is not usually attained by being ahead of everyone else but by waiting patiently for the right time to act. Now is that time, and the person waiting to deny him that chance to glory is Mauricio Pochettino, who himself has weaved his way through various impediments and deterrents to be in a similar position.
Pochettino’s unbelievable achievement
Statistics show that, out of all the teams that finished in the top 10 in the 2018-2019 Premier league season, Tottenham had the least net expenditure in player purchases/transfers in the last two years. That is an incredible stat considering the teams that you find on that list. This, along with the fact that Spurs did not acquire a single player in the 2018 transfer window, makes one realise the enormity of their achievements in the last 2 years – consecutive top-4 league finishes and a shot at the 2019 Champions league trophy this week. Pochettino is slowly turning Tottenham Hotspurs into a potential footballing powerhouse.
Transfer window? What’s that?
One can only wonder what might have, if Pochettino was given the resources he had wanted in the first place. Due to the exorbitant costs of financing Spurs’ new stadium, Daniel Levy turned a blind eye towards the transfer window. And with potential job offers from clubs such as Manchester United in the past, Pochettino could have easily made his way out of Tottenham. But he stayed, probably because he felt he wanted to complete what he had started, to take Tottenham to new heights the club had not seen before. And despite having his hands tied firmly behind his back, he has turned Spurs into a force to reckon with. Their recent exploits in the Champions league, first qualifying from the strongest group that also consisted of Barcelona and Inter Milan, then overcoming the likes of Man City, to launching a magnificent comeback against Ajax, Tottenham truly deserve to be where they are now. And Pochettino has been the man at the forefront of this revolution.
There are a lot of similarities between Klopp and Pochettino. They make players play better and make them bring their A-games consistently forward. This is because they are very positive, energetic people, and the players love them. When you have a leader at the top with such traits, it automatically makes the players look up to the leader, making them focused on the task, without complaining or getting distracted. This is the primary reason why Klopp and Pochettino have been able to get the best out of their players. And like Klopp, Pochettino also has not brought any silverware home to Tottenham. If managers are ultimately judged by the amount of silverware they bring to their clubs, then both Klopp and Pochettino are yet to feature on that list.
Who will win the race?
On June 1st, one of these two men will eventually make it to the list. But who will win that race? The finals at Madrid will feature two English teams for the first time since 2007-2008. Anyone who would have predicted at the beginning of the competition that Liverpool and Tottenham would feature in the finals deserves the big lottery bucks. This will be Klopp’s 4th final appearance as Liverpool manager, and his third overall Champions league final. He still hasn’t won any! For Pochettino, this will be his second final as Tottenham manager, and his first Champions league final ever. A loss for either of them will hurt so badly, but thats sport. But one thing is certain – whatever happens, fans from both sides will continue to love their managers to bits and cherish them, for what they have provided them so far has been immense hope and boundless joy. Long may this continue!