LONDON (AFP) - Tottenham’s new manager Mauricio Pochettino pledged to fulfil the club’s desire for success with style after being hired on a five-year contract on Tuesday.
Pochettino was tipped to take charge at White Hart Lane following the recent sacking of Tim Sherwood and the Premier League club confirmed they have persuaded the former Argentina defender, who had earned widespread praise during his time as Southampton boss, to quit his post at St Mary’s and move to north London.
Pochettino, who will work under Spurs director of football Franco Baldini, admitted he was delighted to be given the opportunity to manage a club of Tottenham’s stature.
The 42-year-old, Tottenham’s 10th permanent manager in the last 13 years, promised to stay faithful to the club’s philosophy of attacking play, while also achieving their desire to play in the Champions League on a regular basis.
“This is a club with tremendous history and prestige and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be its Head Coach,” he said.
“There is an abundance of top-class talent at the club and I am looking forward to starting work with the squad.
“Tottenham Hotspur has a huge following across the world and I have great admiration for the passion the fans show for this team.
“We are determined to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success that we are all looking to achieve.”
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy made his approach to Pochettino after finally ruling out an offer for Carlo Ancelotti, who had been on his wanted list before the Italian’s Champions League triumph with Real Madrid made him an impossible target.
Ajax manager Frank de Boer had also reportedly been in contention for the job, but Pochettino’s impressive rise to prominence in just 18 months in charge convinced Levy he was the right man to lead Tottenham’s challenge to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.
Having arrived at Southampton in January 2013 as a relative unknown, former Espanyol boss Pochettino’s possession-based, attacking game and focus on home-grown talent has impressed, as have his on-field results.
Saints managed their best-ever Premier League finish of eighth last season, while young talents like Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Sam Gallagher and Calum Chambers all thrived under the Argentine’s leadership.
“In Mauricio I believe we have a head coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our club,” Levy said.
“He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, whilst building great team spirit and a winning mentality.
“We have a talented squad that Mauricio is excited to be coaching next season.”
Pochettino, who takes over a Tottenham team that qualified for next season’s Europa League after finishing sixth in the English top flight, has brought assistant manager Jesus Perez, first-team coach Miguel D’Agostino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez with him to the Lane from Southampton.
Another factor in his appointment is that he is regarded as a prime candidate to coax the best out of fellow Argentine Erik Lamela, Tottenham’s £30 million (S$63.3 million) record signing from Roma last year, who endured a dismal first season in England.
Ironically, Pochettino was beaten twice by Sherwood when Spurs faced Saints in the Premier League this season, with both fixtures ending 3-2.
Southampton had been attempting to convince Pochettino to sign a new contract, but his future has been uncertain ever since the departure of chairman and close friend Nicola Cortese.
His exit could herald a major shake-up at Southampton, with Shaw being chased by Chelsea and Manchester United and Lallana high on Liverpool’s list of targets.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, Neil Lennon, who left Celtic last week, and former Cardiff coach Malky Mackay are among the favourites to replace Pochettino at St Mary’s.
“The board’s job is to find opportunity in this challenge and to continue to move the club forward,” Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger said.
“We have begun the search for a new high-calibre manager. We will be looking for a manager that shares our values, our principles and our philosophy.”