Newly-appointed head coach Mauricio Pochettino has promised to bring attacking football to Tottenham after agreeing a five-year deal that leaves Southampton needing a new manager.
Pochettino is the man Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has called upon to deliver Champions League football to his club, hoping he will succeed where Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood both failed.
All the signs are that Pochettino could be up to the job.
In just 16 months at the St Mary’s helm, the former Argentina international transformed from a relative unknown in England to one of the hottest managerial prospects around.
Utilising a squad comprised of homegrown talent and intelligent acquisitions, Pochettino led Saints to their best-ever Barclays Premier League finish last term, with his possession-based, attacking philosophy impressing onlookers.
One of those was clearly Levy, who yesterday handed the 42-year-old a deal until 2019 and declared the new head coach would “embrace the style of play we associate with our club”.
“This is a club with tremendous history and prestige and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be its head coach,” Pochettino told Tottenham’s official website, www.tottenhamhotspur.com.
“There is an abundance of top-class talent at the club and I am looking forward to starting work with the squad.
“Tottenham Hotspur has a huge following across the world and I have great admiration for the passion the fans show for this team.
“We are determined to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success that we are all looking to achieve.”
Levy – who earlier this month got rid of Sherwood after six months in charge – believes his new man can deliver the goods.
“In Mauricio I believe we have a head coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our club,” he said.
“He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality. We have a talented squad that Mauricio is excited to be coaching next season.” Pochettino had a year remaining on his deal at St Mary’s and has taken with him assistant manager Jesus Perez, first-team coach Miguel D’Agostino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez.
Those departures leave Saints facing a rebuilding job this summer, exacerbated by the fact vultures are preparing to swoop for many of their players.
Highly-rated teenager Luke Shaw and playmaker Adam Lallana have attracted interest from Manchester United and Liverpool respectively, while Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers and Jay Rodriguez have also been linked with a move away.
Last month executive director Les Reed said the club’s intention was to keep their star players, but Pochettino’s exit will make that harder.
Malky Mackay, Steve McClaren, Murat Yakin and Michael Laudrup are among the early frontrunners to replace Pochettino, with Saints chairman Ralph Krueger pledging to find a replacement to keep the club going in an upward trajectory.
“The club has been on a constant path of growth since the arrival of Markus Liebherr in 2009,” he said in a statement on www.saintsfc.co.uk.
“This growth took place before Mauricio came, it continued strongly under his leadership, and it will continue into the next season.
“The board’s job is to find opportunity in this challenge and to continue to move the club forward.
“We have begun the search for a new high-calibre manager. We will be looking for a manager that shares our values, our principles and our philosophy.
“A manager who can continue to grow the first team and build on our strong foundation – a foundation led by an ambitious vision and plan that continues to build on our world-class academy, our amazing 129-year heritage and our excellent staff, and rewards our loyal and passionate fan base.”