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Saturday, January 29, 2022
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HomeSPORTSMauricio Pochettino faces crisis
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Mauricio Pochettino faces crisis

Mauricio Pochettino has become an expert in mixed messages for much of the past few months, but there was no disguising the meaning of this abject Champions League humiliation for Tottenham’s manager.

This was the most embarrassing result since he arrived at Spurs in May 2014. If you were being cruel you would say it was the most embarrassing for seven days after they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by League Two Colchester United.

The word “crisis” can be over-used but, in this current context, this is what Pochettino now faces after Spurs were thrashed 7-2 in their own palatial new home by Bayern Munich. He is certainly facing the most searching questions of his Spurs career and they must be answered quickly.

Bayern’s margin of victory was bad enough – the first time Spurs have conceded seven goals at home in a major competition – but the pitiful manner of the capitulation made this an even more harrowing experience for Pochettino and his players.

And the lack of response to adversity, the wild tactical naivety that left Bayern with wide open spaces they exploited ruthlessly by inflicting this punishment, means fingers must arguably be pointed in the direction of Pochettino as much as his players.

Pochettino is loved by Spurs fans, taking them on that remarkable ride to their first Champions League final, where they lost to Liverpool, in Madrid in June.

The problem is, such affection only lasts so long and the chorus of jeers from those who remained inside the vast sweep of this magnificent stadium will have struck an ominous note.

Spurs, ironically, were excellent for 35 minutes and much hinged on Robert Lewandowski’s magnificent finish on the stroke of half-time that gave Bayern a 2-1 advantage.

It was the lack of response, the lack of heart, fight and inspiration that will raise the alarm for Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy, who offered a smile through gritted teeth to his Bayern counterparts at the final whistle.

What this desperate display means for Pochettino in the longer term remains to be seen, but make no mistake, this is a club and a manager in trouble. No other realistic conclusion can be drawn from the wreckage of this night.

It looked like the clouds had lifted after a battling win with 10 men against Southampton on Saturday but the thunder and lightning that rolled around the stadium before kick-off was symbolic of the night that lay ahead for Pochettino and Spurs.

By the final whistle, as Bayern reached seven and actually threatened to add more, the stadium was largely deserted, Spurs were a stretched-out rabble and Pochettino cut a haunted figure.

They failed to react to the blows inflicted upon them by Bayern. They accepted them with a total lack of resistance. It suggested this is a team in serious need of renewal, a squad needing a freshening of minds and bodies, and a manager in the deepest trouble of his time in north London.

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