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Maurico Pochettino warns Tottenham players they have to work hard

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There are plenty of phrases overused in football, so much so that there's a rather popular Twitter account that exists purely to ridicule pundits and punters' over-reliance on those well-worn cliches.

One that often slips through the net, and one that most get away with using scot-free without much questioning, is "football philosophy". So broadly defined in the modern game it can, and indeed does, mean pretty much anything from Big Sam's long ball to Pep Guardiola's tiki-taka, it's easy to find one manager or another spouting off about their philosophy with little to back it up.

So it was interesting to see Mauricio Pochettino speak publicly - in English - for the first time as Tottenham manager. The Argentinian was seemingly looking to lay down a marker to his new squad and the north London club's fans when one of the first things he spoke of was how he intended to approach his new job.

"'The players don't have to be afraid [of my methods],' he said. "Our style is demanding - sometimes too much but we use common sense. We demand a lot from them because that is our style.

"Our philosophy is 'suffer in training so you don't suffer in the game'. But the players don't have to be afraid because we work with common sense all the time. "We can only expect full commitment and a positive attitude."

Luckily for him, he already has a squad which should be well suited to his approach. At their core, Tottenham have a group of young, hungry players with something to prove after last year's failings; players like Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli, Vlad Chiriches, along with more established stars like Andros Townsend, Kyle Walker, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Mousa Dembele are all mobile and have plenty of running in them. He can thank the influence of Andre Villas-Boas for laying some solid foundations for him to build on.

But of course that alone isn't enough and that brings us back to Pochettino's philosophy. One of the reasons the former Southampton boss was hired was to ensure an easy-on-the-eye style returned to White Hart Lane, and anyone who watched the south coast club last season will be confident of that happening. 

Pochettino is heavily influenced by Marcelo Bielsa - a man whose as infamous for his madcap antics as he is for inspiring the likes of Pep Guardiola - but luckily he's opted not to adopt the current Marseille boss's knack of attacking groundsmen or making his players climb up trees. So Spurs fans can expect to see plenty of hard pressing and fluid football in attack - which once again should suit their current squad.

However it is a tad presumptuous to think that Pochettino will simply lift his approach at Southampton and try to implement it at Spurs no matter how well it may suit. If nothing else he's shown himself to be a dynamic manager in his career to date so he is likely to roll with the punches in order to extract the best out of the likes of Erik Lamela and Emmanuel Adebayor, to name but two.

Ramón Planes, Pochettino's former sporting director at Espanyol, seemed to sum up his former colleague's approach quite nicely in an interview with the Guardian last year.

"Mauricio always wanted his teams to treat the ball well, to be very proactive, not just to wait for the opposition," he said. "He wanted his teams to be dynamic, brave and attacking – and that's still his approach. He wanted the pace to be high and for the team to really press."

Crucially he added: "I spoke to him about football a lot and I don't think he had one single model." So Spurs fans looking for Athletic Bilbao circa 2012 or Southampton's class of 2013/14 may be a tad disappointed. 

Of course with Tottenham there are plenty of other outside influences to consider that will present a considerable challenge for Pochettino and help define whether he is a success or not - one will be sitting up in the directors' box for home games, for example.

While there is certainly a feeling of cautious optimism around White Hart Lane with Pochettino on board there's certainly a feeling of "been there, done that" with AVB coming in on a wave of good will and exiting out the back door too.

That's something that he needs to deal with; but with a group of talented players who seem suited to his general approach and have a lot more to show than fans saw last season, things on the pitch look well taken care of.

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Premier League

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