Conte and Pochetinno are arch rivals daring to dreamby William Odinga 21/04/2017 19:02:00 0 comments 1 Views
By Matt Barlow for the Daily Mail
Published: 22:30 BST, 21 April 2017 | Updated: 00:02 BST, 22 April 2017
One of the great successes of the tenure of Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham has been his ability to integrate the entire club and infuse all departments with his vision.
Bonds between first team and academy ranks were tightened via Ugo Ehiogu and his Under 23 squad because the central theme of Pochettino's culture is about developing players.
The sudden death of Ehiogu has shaken the Spurs family.
Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham face Chelsea in the semi finals of the FA Cup on Saturday
Pochettino broke off from his preparations for the FA Cup semi-final to support the medical staff as they treated Ehiogu on the academy pitches on Thursday and the news reverberated across London.
'When this happens the football is not important,' said Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. 'It hits every one of us.
'You reflect a lot about life and you think to live life more. Not to be angry for stupid problems because you don't know if the day after you will still be here or in another place.'
In many ways, Conte and Pochettino are kindred spirits. Although they produce contrasting styles of play, they create teams with balance by focusing on improving individuals.
Antonio Conte has tried new combinations in training ahead of Saturday's semi-final
With Victor Moses and Danny Rose there is evidence on both sides, so too Chelsea's successful switch to a back three when things went awry and Tottenham's capability to flex between different formations without fuss.
Both managers keep long hours and expect staff to do the same, with meticulous attention to detail on the training pitch and the video analysis suites and they energise others with their drive and personality.
Both nurture and protect and think carefully about public messages to keep pressure at bay.
When Pochettino was asked if it was time to deliver a trophy, he went on the offensive and claimed his storming of the top four with Tottenham was a greater feat than Pep Guardiola winning a title at Barcelona or Conte at Juventus.
Pochettino and Conte have helped to improve both Victor Moses (left) and Danny Rose
'Here is a massive success,' said the Spurs boss. 'We're showing we are a team you can trust.
'Yes, you can win titles. But with which teams? It is normal to win titles with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, maybe Juventus; Porto in Portugal.
'With a big team, you are already very close to winning. Look at Barcelona with Pep, Tito Vilanova, Frank Rijkaard and Luis Enrique.
'Four different managers with the same group of players and they were successful. Success for me is to finish in the top four like last season. It was a big success for Tottenham and means maybe more than winning one title with Barcelona.'
As a player, Pochettino won titles with Newell's Old Boys in Argentina and twice won the Copa del Rey with Espanyol in Spain.
As a manager, he enjoyed success without silverware at Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham.
'I dream of lifting trophies,' said Pochettino. 'But at Espanyol, two Copas del Rey. With Espanyol! That is why I admire Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
Pochettino admits that he is full of admiration for Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone
'It is so difficult to win with Atletico Madrid. He deserves more credit maybe than some others.
'At Spurs, you always like a manager and a player who lifts the trophies. But come on! We will arrive, we are ambitious.'
'For me success is not only to lift a trophy. How you arrive in a position to lift trophies is more important. I have not changed my desire to lift trophies from when I was at Espanyol.
'In Argentina, playing for Boca Juniors or River Plate, it was normal to win. Not playing for Newell's Old Boys. But I liked that challenge. If you are there but not spending the money and are still challenging, that is what I like the most.'
Conte's reaction was to point out that Pochettino ought to be winning trophies rather than generating excuses after three years at White Hart Lane.
'Tottenham must be considered at the top,' said the Chelsea manager. 'Tottenham is a really great power in English football. They have been working for three years and it's the right moment to consider them.
Pochettino is yet to win any silverware as a manager with Espanyol, Southampton or Spurs
'Not to consider them the underdog and have this excuse. They are a great team and for the second year are fighting for the title. Last year they missed this, this year they are trying again and, in the future, they will fight every year for the title.
'They are full of strong players and they are building something important. There is a moment where you have to finish. I think this is the right moment.'
On Chelsea, Conte speaks of 'foundations' and 'building for the future' in his first year at the Bridge and the impact of losing long-serving players such as Branislav Ivanovic, John Mikel Obi and, soon, John Terry.
Neither manager wants to embrace the pressure of favouritism and yet both have complete faith in what they are doing.
They have out- performed more celebrated rivals, such as Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger.
This FA Cup semi-final promises to be much more than an FA Cup semi-final.