Mauricio Pochettino at fault for Tottenham’s Wembley woes

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus on August 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus on August 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images) /

The time has come where it’s fair to criticize manager Mauricio Pochettino for Tottenham Hotspur dropping points at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur supporters are understandably defensive of manager Mauricio Pochettino, to the point that some immediately lash out at any analyst or fan who dares to question or even criticize the Spurs boss who has done well to get the best from multiple young players and guide the club back to the Champions League in consecutive seasons.

If such individuals are happy to credit Pochettino for Tottenham’s rise in the league table the past couple of seasons, they should also understand no manager is flawless. Not every decision made during matches and training sessions works out as planned. Pochettino has gotten plenty right during his tenure at Tottenham, but his inability to lead his club to consistent results at Wembley Stadium is now an undeniable black cloud hovering over Spurs.

Stats may tell the story of a particular match, but the only one that matters for a club’s place in the table is the scoreline. Days after the fact, you can bet Swansea City care little that they hardly possessed the ball versus Tottenham at Wembley. Swans are likely not bothered by the fact Spurs striker Harry Kane hit the woodwork. The visitors from that contest were happy to take the single point back with them on Saturday.

Pochettino can’t guide Kane efforts away from the bar and into the back of the net, nor can the manager prevent other members of his squad from skying shots into seats or force a referee to give Spurs a friendly call following a questionable incident inside the penalty area. While Tottenham unquestionably bossed the majority of the action versus an overmatched Swansea side, that doesn’t put an additional two points in that all-important category of the table.

Like it or not, Tottenham failing to notch league wins at Wembley is now a trend. That 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund may have felt great, but it’s a one-off until Spurs prove otherwise. Assuming Tottenham are dealing with a confidence crisis regarding this particular issue, that comes down to the manager and the man who is supposed to have his club psychologically and emotionally prepared for fixtures.

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Tottenham were missing something versus Swansea, especially during the opening 45 minutes of play. Spurs were shockingly lackluster and without life days after earning their best result of the campaign in club football’s top competition, and there was never truly a time during the match when an observer would have felt the better side was going to run away with the game.

Blaming Tottenham’s inability to defeat Swansea on emotional or physical fatigue coming off of their Champions League victory doesn’t check out because we’ve seen this Tottenham story occur on multiple occasions since the start of the campaign. Merely closing his eyes and wishing that wins will magically fall from the sky won’t cut it for Pochettino as his side slowly fails to keep up with the sides atop the table.

Different managers and coaches have different ways to eliminate bad vibes like the one lingering around Tottenham whenever they host a Premier League opponent at Wembley. Some give their athletes an extra day off ahead of a game. Others may take an entire squad out bowling. We’ve heard of coaches hosting movie nights.

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Pochettino may not need or want to take his players out for ice cream during the final days of September, nor should he need to admit he believes his team is the victim of any jinx or curse. He does, however, have to figure this out and soon, because Spurs are no longer a rebuilding project. Tottenham are supposed to have a squad capable of winning the league, and also one of the best managers in all of England running the show.

This business is based on results, and Pochettino isn’t getting the right ones at the moment. That’s troubling regardless of how anyone feels about him this September.