Don’t look back in anger
Most of the big issues in the league had been signed and sealed before the weekend’s final offering, so by and large it was a fairly bland set of press conferences up and down the country. That was apart from those at St James’ Park. I won’t focus on Rafa as there are many from this parish that are much better qualified than me to do so, but Mauricio Pochettino showed a side to his character that many of us had not yet seen following his team’s abject thrashing.
The Argentine fumed that Spurs played “like a team that cared about nothing” and declared it his “worst day as a manager.” From the performance his team delivered on the pitch, it’s not hard to see why. Pochettino refused to blame tactics or skills, rather focusing his ire on the mental state of his players, which has clearly taken a battering since Spurs were ruled out of the title race. The reaction since that fateful evening at Stamford Bridge will have worried the Tottenham manager. His players clearly lost their nerve and their cool in the face of provocation from Chelsea and have not recovered since. Though Pochettino’s fury and demands that his players apologised to the fans and their families after Sunday’s defeat, leads me to think that Spurs won’t make the same mistakes next season. Yes, they have collapsed but what a season they have had, all in all. They are a young team with a young manager that will learn from this experience together. The fact that the last game of the season meant so much to the manager will certainly not be lost on the players and any who fail to share that winning mentality will no doubt be shipped out in the summer. Pochettino’s rage is sure to cool and turn into decisive action over the summer; Spurs should not worry.
Over in Swansea we bade farewell to one of the managers who has been usurped by Pochettino’s Tottenham this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s post-match comments summed up his reign as Man City boss, really. Inoffensive, entertaining but on the whole lacking in killer instinct. The Chilean defended his last season claiming, “We were for the third season the highest scoring team of the Premier League and the team that won more points if you compare the big teams.” First of all, I’m not sure exactly who he is comparing City to there but there are few positives to take from the team’s league displays this year. Way before Pep Guardiola’s appointment was mentioned, this charming man seemed to struggle to exert the influence over his players that would earn him a second Premier League title. He has carried himself with great dignity and done a steady job at City but his replacement will surely take them to a level that he would have been incapable of.
From one charming man to another. It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t finish the season with a final word from Claudio Ranieri, after presiding over one of the greatest sporting achievements of a generation. Beginning to reflect on a job very well done, the Leicester manager stated, “We have to realise what has happened and then look back on our season.” He still can’t believe it. From all those weeks insisting that Leicester were just aiming for safety, through to just being happy to qualify for the Champions League, before they actually won the league outright, Ranieri has played the media masterfully. It has been abundantly clear from the performances of his players on the pitch that he has put no undue pressure on their shoulders, a tactic that has worked a treat. Whatever happens next season, no one can ever take this magnificent achievement away from him. Thus, the bell tolls for the final time this season, dilly ding, dilly dong.
MICHAEL CREANE – FOLLOW ON @MichaelCreane
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