On October 1st, 2019, the Germans invaded England and massacred eleven men in north London. By the time the carnage had ended, the club once known as Tottenham Hotspur had ceased to exist, Mauricio Pochettino was bidding on houses in Madrid and Manchester, and Bayern Munich was celebrating a 7-2 trouncing of last year's Champions League Runners Up. In front of their own fans, playing in a brand new stadium, Tottenham took out a musket, rammed gunpowder into the chamber, slid a bullet down the barrel, and shot themselves in the foot.
I imagine this is what the football history textbooks will read in a few decades.
In a few decades, Spurs' run of finishing above Arsenal, birthing English talent, and making deep runs in the UCL will mark the high point of the club's history. A club committed to upholding the traditions of the past, Spurs will end this decade without a trophy.
Tottenham's embarrassment today is far more than a mere group stage defeat in the Champions League. It can't be excused merely by shocking defending or a potent opposition. The match can also not be written off as a hiccup in an otherwise undisturbed 2019/2020 Champions League campaign. No. This match is the writing on the wall for the next few years of Tottenham Hotspur. Read carefully.
This may be the beginning of the end. Pochettino will leave. Harry Kane and Dele Alli will consider moves to better teams in England and abroad. Finally, Daniel Levy will find himself strapped with an expensive stadium, a weakened team, and not a single trophy to show for it.
Let's be clear, a team does not merely concede seven goals. Yes, Bayern was clinical with their chances, but had they been more clinical, they could have reached double digits. And Spurs got their fair share of lucky breaks. VAR failed to overturn Kane's penalty and Serge Aurier remained on the pitch after making a two-footed stomping tackle that deserves a minimum 5 games suspension. Spurs looked ragged. Their defenders looked as if they all were attempting to hold a different line. The midfield had so many gaps it would make the Mall of America jealous. Pochettino, however, remained calm. Staring from his seat in the dugout, the Tottenham manager did not appear at all surprised as one goal after another tumbled into his own team's net. Mauricio Pochettino looked exasperated.
In his post-match press conference, Pochettino attempted to explain his team's disastrous effort by pulling out the video game level responses of, "We move on," "Tomorrow is a new day," and "We can't live in the past." Pochettino made less of an effort to apologize for his squad's performance than his players did in 90 minutes against the German champions. His lack of enthusiasm has been constant in press conferences this season. Following Spurs' collapse in the UCL two weeks ago when they blew a two-goal lead to Olympiakos, he said, "I'm disappointed, but it's okay, it's only the beginning [of the group stage]." He continued mentioning his squad's need for a "mentality" shift rather than a boost in quality.
As Tottenham sinks deeper into the void of underwhelming results, poor player performances, and the rising shadow of their north London rivals, Arsenal, Mauricio Pochettino's career at Spurs becomes increasingly in doubt. It is no secret that Manchester United and Real Madrid are desperate for the Argentine's services. Once they perform poorly enough to justify sacking managers whom they gave massive contracts not 6 months ago, they will bid for Pochettino's services. And Pochettino deserves every penny.
What Pochettino has done for Spurs is an incredible achievement that will grow in stature as the seasons pass. Turning the club from Arsenal's annoying sibling to a perennial European threat, Pochettino cemented his team as a vital member of England's top six. Many who ridicule his successes as products of luck, weak competition, and unsustained runs of form, fail to realize the hindrances placed on him by Spurs. If he receives the budget, support, and stability that he has often lacked in London, he can quickly rise to the peak of football management. After all, resurrecting the biggest clubs in England and Spain as his first job post-Tottenham, wouldn't be the worst way to prove his doubters wrong.
Spurs fans, who are used to the sort of disappointment that tonight provided must remain grateful for all that Pochettino has brought the club. That brilliant night in Amsterdam. When Spurs almost beat Leicester for the league title. When Spurs almost beat Chelsea for the League title. Tragically, even though Pochettino has made massive strides to improve the legacy and reputation of Spurs, he will exit the club with nothing to show for his success.