My thanks to Lucien from beyond the big pond!
It’s an FA cup weekend. The matchup of interest to our lot is Spurs vs. Man United at Wembley. Sorry it’s Man United vs. Spurs because the visitors are the home team….. The match up on the pitch is interesting enough but I am equally intrigued by the match up in the “managers’ box”.
So ladies and gentle men, without much ado, introducing you to our pugilists- standing on the left is Mauricio Roberto Pochettino Trossero.
Standing on the right is a…a slightly knock- knee and flat foot Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix.
Pochettino got his UEFA pro license as recent as 2009 and is some 9 years younger than his opponent.
Mourinho got the first of his football badges in the mid-1980s. In 2015, Mourinho was named Portuguese Coach of the century by the FPF (Portuguese Football Federation) though he is yet to coach the national team.
Pochettino’s claim to fame is his rather watchable and aesthetic brand of football. Many a football neutral will testify to that fact including a certain Pep Guardiola. In fact, Poch’s opponent on the right shares the same sentiments as Pep.
Poch‘s brand of football is effective too, most of the times anyway. So much so that the Spurs fan base are a generally satisfied lot. They usually score high on (my) fan happiness index week in week out.
This trend has continued this season were Spurs fans along possibly with Burnley supporters are probably the happiest with their lot in the Premier League.
As for Man City, they don’t show a lot of emotion despite the lofty exploits of their team. Maybe people are happier and closer to the team when the club has grown organically?
Going back to our two prize fighters, both of them are quite awkward to engage, much like south paws.
As for Poch, just ask several managers especially Zinedine Zidane and he will tell you how awkward things got for him this year in the champions league.
For the Mourinho, ask the collective in the premier league and they will tell you how awkward he is…..both on the pitch as well as on the side lines.
I am afraid that is as far as the comparisons go. The fighter on the right has at least 3 FA cups plus a bunch of title cups to his name.
Let us just say the fighter on the left has a lot of potential for a trailer load of cups.
Both fighters have links with Man U. Mourinho being the current manager and Poch, a possible heir apparent. It is an open secret that Man U has been keeping their beady eye on Poch for a while now. In fact Man U poached a Spurs junior coach some time back. Perhaps to lay the ground for an eventual poaching of Poch?
However business pressures require that Man United bags a trophy on a regular basis. Chevrolet, one of their main sponsors I suspect will not have it any other way. Hence they have settled for Mourinho’s cup winning pedigree. Never mind the not-so aesthetic football.
Mourinho is a realist and probably not as brave as Poch. He seats down, looks at his team. Notes down his team’s weak links and proceeds to protect their zone during the match. In fact, I do admire the way Mourinho‘s teams can actually dictate which part of the field the opponent will be allowed to play most of his football.
If his whole team is weak or the opponent is much stronger, Mourinho will adopt the Mohamed Ali’s rope-a-dope style. With this style one leans against the ropes, protects the head while absorbing body blows, until the opponent tires (or gets impatient or careless). Then if you land a sucker punch you win. If he does not land a sucker punch, Mourinho will happily settle for a draw.
Our man Poch is a brave romantic and believes in his way.
In October 2016, Herr Klopp observed, “Tottenham are absolutely convinced about their way and their style of play…”
That approach works for Poch most of the time. However every now and then he walks straight into head jerking upper cut. And all the Spurs faithful suffer the resulting whiplash (see Man City away and home).
He detests draws and narrow victories. You could say that he is quite similar to Mike Tyson. What with their in-your-face style.
If you are not careful the fight can be over in a matter of seconds (Spurs 1-0 Man United in less than 11 seconds).
Considering the two boxers’ personality profiles, it is Mourinho who is likely to prepare his team for a possible 120 minutes of cup football. He would go as far as getting the selected penalty takers to practice penalties. Hell this guy is so thorough he will sub-in the best keeper for penalties if it comes to that.
Our man Poch looks as far as 90 minutes. As a result Poch’s charges normally get impatient around the 80th minute if the teams are drawing. This typically leads to errors and conceding (Man Utd 1-0 Spurs. Spurs 1-2 Chelsea).
In an earlier match up this season at Old Trafford, quite out of character the fighter on the left tried to match up to his older opponent’s patience and method. The press called the match a “cagey” affair. That rouse worked for the whole of 80 minutes or so until Antony Martial popped up and Dier reverted back to type.
Someone asked me who I think will win at the weekend. I scratched my chin a bit-day dreamed about a Mahomed Ali vs. Mike Tyson match-up. If both man stay true to type then Ali on seeing the physically stronger Tyson will do “rope-a-dope” hoping to lend a late sucker punch. Tyson will go at Ali from the word go. If Tyson lends a lucky punch to the kisser then Tyson wins.
So I am going with luck. Tyson, I mean….Spurs will probably need a slice of luck to win it inside 90 minutes.
So Spurs….. go out there and get lucky!