Mauricio Pochettino has described returning to Tottenham on Monday as “really special” and said he will “respect” any supporter who boos him given he is now manager of Chelsea.
Pochettino was with Tottenham for five years, during which time they came in second in the Premier League and made it to the Champions League final. He also oversaw the successful transition to a new and impressive stadium. It was expected that he would speak highly of his first visit back since being fired by Daniel Levy in November 2019. However, Pochettino is prepared for a potentially chilly reception from the fans who used to adore him, as he will now be coaching one of their biggest rivals.
“After a span of four years, returning to the place where we shared incredible memories together holds a special significance,” stated Pochettino. “Leaving the club was a challenging time for me, but now we have the chance to return and reconnect with the people who are still dedicated to the club. It’s sure to be an exhilarating experience.”
“I will refrain from commenting on the potential reaction of Spurs fans, as we cannot predict it until Monday. The most significant aspect is that we remember the wonderful times we shared together. I will honor and appreciate how people choose to express themselves. However, my emotions, perspective, and sentiments towards the club where we had an incredible journey will not be altered.”
Pochettino expressed gratitude towards Levy, despite their strained relationship, for giving him and his coaching staff the opportunity to be with Tottenham. He acknowledged Levy as the most significant person in the journey and thanked him for not only a professional but also a friendly relationship.
Following the warm greetings, Pochettino’s main focus will be on helping Chelsea bounce back from their defeat to Brentford in the Premier League last week. He understands that this will not be a simple task as they face a strong opponent who is currently leading in the league and is considered a top contender for the title, in his opinion. Pochettino praised Ange Postecoglou and the other coaches for their excellent work and acknowledged the team’s high-quality players. While it is still early in the season, they have shown the potential to be title contenders. He also expressed that Monday’s match will be a challenging one.
Chelsea can find solace in their recent record at Tottenham, having won four out of their last six matches there. Additionally, there is hope that their captain, Reece James, will make back-to-back starts after returning from a hamstring injury. James played for 61 minutes in Wednesday’s 2-0 win against Blackburn in the Carabao Cup, and Pochettino expressed the importance of having him back on the team.
Pochettino was inevitably questioned about his feelings towards returning to Spurs and whether it was comparable to reuniting with an ex-girlfriend, due to the strong relationships he formed during his time there. He responded by saying, “I have been with my wife for almost 32 years and I can’t recall if I had a girlfriend before her. So it’s hard to answer that question.”