By Matt Law and John Percy |Telegraph|
Mauricio Pochettino has held talks with chairman Daniel Levy over his Tottenham Hotspur future as players at the club brace themselves for a managerial change.
Telegraph Sport last week revealed that Pochettino is heading towards the point of no return at Spurs and it is understood he discussed his position with Levy last week during the international break.
And players who have been away with their countries have been exchanging messages about their manager’s future amid heightened talk that the clock is ticking on his Tottenham reign.
Under the terms of his contract, Levy would have to pay around £12.5million to sack Pochettino unless the pair could come to a mutual agreement over his exit.
The Argentine suggested he could quit ahead of last season’s Champions League final, but the circumstances of doing so now following Tottenham’s poor start to the season would be very different.
Other than the issue of which man might be prepared to blink first, Tottenham would also need to appoint a successor if Pochettino left during the season, given there is not an obvious caretaker at the club.
Jose Mourinho and Max Allegeri are out of work, while Carlo Ancelotti’s position at Napoli is uncertain. Managers who would be more difficult to appoint mid-season and may interest Tottenham are Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Red Bull Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann.
Gareth Southgate appeared to reiterate his commitment to the England job after the 4-0 victory over Kosovo.
Tottenham and Pochettino could still try to limp on together until the end of the season, although that currently appears increasingly unrealistic.
The draw with Sheffield United meant Spurs went into the international break in 14th place in the Premier League table ahead of Saturday’s pivotal trip to West Ham United.
Tottenham already trail fourth-placed Manchester City by 11 points and there is a feeling around the club that a defeat would effectively end any slim hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
One source said: “Unless things improve dramatically then it is impossible to see Pochettino staying at Tottenham for the entire season. Losing at West Ham would be a disaster for them.
In happier times: Pochettino and Daniel Levy back in March
In happier times: Pochettino and Daniel Levy back in March CREDIT: ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS
“Levy would prefer not to sack him, not only because of the money but also because of what he has achieved at Tottenham. But Pochettino has made it look like that is what he might prefer.”
Pochettino wanted to make big changes this summer, but Tottenham failed to sell the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose, while only making three new first-team signings. That left him with an uphill task to recreate the miracles of previous seasons, although Pochettino’s critics also claim that he has become increasingly distant with his squad.
Another source compared the situation at Tottenham to what happened at Borussia Dortmund, when Jurgen Klopp asked to be released from his contract, although the German did see out the 2014/15 season.