Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that he may well have quit Tottenham had they won the Champions League.
Before the semi-final second leg, which saw Spurs come from the dead against Ajax to seal a place in the final, the Argentine made the stunning statement that he would consider ending his five-year reign should his side lift the trophy.
And, speaking from Tottenham’s pre-season tour in Singapore, Pochettino admitted it ‘for sure’ could have been a different scenario had they then defeated Liverpool, to whom they lost 2-0.
‘Maybe if it was a different result after the final you can think, “OK, maybe this is a moment to step out of the club, leave the club and give them the possibility of a really new chapter with a new coaching staff”,’ he said.
‘But after the final I felt this was not great to finish like this.’
Pochettino, often linked to Manchester United and Real Madrid, suggested that victory over Jurgen Klopp’s side would have been a fitting end to an era which has seen him oversee consistent top-four finishes while helping fund Spurs’ move to their new stadium.
‘It was an amazing period,’ he said. ‘After five years in a difficult project at Tottenham we talk a lot about perception and reality, how we fight and all the energy we expend trying to get Tottenham fighting with the best teams in Europe and England.
‘Of course it’s always in your head, you never know… when you touch glory you behave differently.’
The fact that Spurs did not lift the trophy, coupled with his own desire to take on a challenge, appears to have persuaded Pochettino – who last summer signed a lucrative five-year contract – to stay in north London.
‘I am not a person to avoid problems and to face difficult situations,’ he said. ‘I love a big, difficult challenge and to rebuild that mentality so it’s possible to have a similar season I think that excites and motivates me a lot.’ Before the press conference unsettled Christian Eriksen, who has suggested he wants a new challenge, trained on his own. Pochettino revealed the Dane had undergone a minor procedure.
‘That is the explanation of why today he was alone,’ he said.
‘We gave the option to stay in London but he wanted to come because the medical staff they decided that he can be available to play maybe so he is here. It was his decision with the club and medical staff.’
Spurs, who added no new faces last summer, have so far brought in Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and young Leeds star Jack Clarke, who has been loaned back to the Championship club.
When asked if he wanted more new faces Pochettino, who earlier this week saw Kieran Trippier move to Atletico Madrid, was coy.
‘I told Daniel (Levy, chairman) during the flight from London that I will be happy with the squad that you are going to provide me to work with,’ he said.
‘I’m always happy. I’m a happy man, working with 25 players, always. We are going to have 25 players to work with. Always I was happy and I’m going to be happy. That is my nature.’
Earlier in the press conference, striker Harry Kane had been asked if Tottenham could use Liverpool’s 22-point turnaround from the season before to last season as ‘inspiration’ going into the new campaign. Pochettino bristled at the suggestion.
‘I think it’s a little bit unfair,’ he said. ‘I think maybe people can use Tottenham as an inspiration, not we can use another team as an inspiration.’