On July 3, 2001, I was headed to a 4th of July barbecue at a friend’s house. It was a Wednesday night, a lovely warm Seattle summer evening, and I was buoyed by the news I read, earlier that day, that Sol Campbell, who at the time was one of Spurs’ best defenders, had moved across north London to the red half and signed for Arsenal. At the same time I got to my friend’s house, a mutual friend arrived. This mutual friend had a Yankees tattoo on one arm and a Spurs cockerel on the other, which makes the fact that I’m friends with him an absolutely amazing thing, given my sports proclivities.
Anyway, as we walked up to the house, I said hi to him and his girlfriend, and then said the three most amazing, banter-unlocking words in the English language: “Have you heard?” Fortunately for me, my dear friend hadn’t heard, so I got to be the one to break the news that an iconic Spurs player, idolized by his fans, had defected to Arsenal. I don’t think I’ve had more fun at a barbecue since that day.
He powered through the stages of grief pretty quickly - I don’t think I saw him get to acceptance, but he got through the rest of them as I just sat there drinking beer, eating barbecue, and watching him melt down and freak the fuck out was a glorious way to celebrate our nation’s 225th birthday.
Anyway, Mauricio Pochettino got fired today.
I’m at work this afternoon, not at a fun barbecue with all my friends, but it’s still quite the thing to read about the dismissal of the most successful manager in Spurs’ modern history, the guy who made them relevant again after 20+ years in Arsenal’s shadow, the guy who got them as close to a Champions League title as Arsenal got. They fired the guy...that Arsenal should hire.
I don’t even say that from a banter perspective; I legit think Poch is a very desirable candidate and would be a good fit at Arsenal. By all accounts, one of Poch’s main issues at Spurs was that Daniel Levy didn’t give him the players he needed to refresh his squad, and that squad STILL did more in Poch’s time than Spurs had done in decades prior. No, they haven’t won any trophies under him, but Poch’s effect on Spurs is only slightly less than Wenger’s was on early Arsenal.
Poch did everything different, and did so under some challenging finances, and did well given all those limits. Sound familiar? Imagine what a manager like Pochettino could do with a front office like Arsenal’s behind him. Hell, they went out and got Unai Emery a boatload of talent this summer he didn’t even really ask for! Imagine what a coach who is on the same page as both his management and his players are could do with a club like Arsenal. And he wouldn’t even have to move! His kids could stay at the same school!
I’m 99% sure it won’t happen - I have no insight, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the terms of his exit forbade him taking another PL job this year, and maybe even specifically not the Arsenal job for a couple more seasons - but it sure is fun to think about what a dynamic, smart, resourceful manager like Pochettino could do with Arsenal given a couple seasons, isn’t it? And that’s not even addressing the banter side of the transaction.
It’s nice to dream, and seeing Mauricio Pochettino wearing red and white is my dream for today.