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Mauricio Pochettino faces a defining moment as the Tottenham boss aims to joins the managerial elite by masterminding a famous Champions League triumph against Juventus on Wednesday. Long regarded as one of the sport’s brightest young managers, Pochettino can use this season’s Champions League to reach the rarified air inhabited by the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Diego Simeone.
Like his former Argentina team-mate Simeone, Pochettino is coveted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs. But while Simeone has defied the odds to lead Atletico Madrid to La Liga and Europa League titles, as well as reaching two Champions League finals, Pochettino is still waiting for his breakthrough moment.
Despite earning plaudits throughout his nine-year managerial career with Espanyol, Southampton and now Tottenham, the 46-year-old has failed to lead any of his clubs to a major trophy.
Clearly, silverware isn’t the only measure of a manager and no one would doubt Pochettino overachieved at Espanyol and Southampton given the lack of financial backing available. Although Tottenham have greater resources than either of Pochettino’s other teams, they largely steer clear of the huge fees paid by their top four rivals in the Premier League.
Since arriving in north London 2014, Pochettino has deftly navigated those constraints to turn Tottenham into a genuine top four force after years of underachievement. But the crucial black mark on Pochettino’s CV remains his failure to push Tottenham across the finish line when they have been on the brink of landing a trophy.
Having reached the League Cup final in 2015, Pochettino’s side slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat against Chelsea, while in 2016 a late-season swoon allowed Leicester to coast to the Premier League title. -AFP