Amsterdam (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino dropped a tantalising hint that his work at Tottenham Hotspur might be done if they can come through their Champions League semi-final against Ajax on Wednesday and go on to win the trophy for the first time in their history.
Spurs must overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit when they take on the Dutch club in the return of their last-four tie in Amsterdam, with a final against Liverpool on June 1 the prize for the winners.
“It would be a fantastic way to close a five-year chapter and go home,” said Pochettino, appointed coach of the north London club in 2014, at a press conference at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Tuesday.
When asked to clarify if the Argentine meant he would be willing to walk away if he were to deliver Champions League glory, Pochettino said his comments were “not a joke”.
“To win the Champions League with Tottenham in these circumstances, this season, maybe I need to think a little bit about doing something different in the future, for sure, because to repeat this miracle, you know…”
Tottenham have already made history under Pochettino this season, reaching this stage for the first time since they got to the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1962 before losing to Eusebio’s Benfica.
Donny van de Beek’s goal in the first leg separates the sides, but Tottenham come to the Netherlands boosted by the return of Son Heung-min, who was suspended last week.
Now they are dreaming of a first European final since Keith Burkinshaw’s team beat Anderlecht on penalties to lift the UEFA Cup in 1984, before any of those set to feature on Wednesday were born.
“We are living a dream. Five years ago when we arrived it was to reduce the gap to the top four, and then to have the possibility to play in the Champions League,” Pochettino said.
“I think nobody would believe we would be playing in the Champions League three seasons in a row and competing at this stage.”
– Stumbling –
However, his side are stumbling badly towards the finish line with a depleted squad, set to finish in the top four in the Premier League mainly thanks to the failings of the teams below them.
Harry Kane is out, and Tottenham have been beaten five times in their last six games, nine times in their last 10 matches away from home.