Spurs sack Pochettino amid results slump

Mauricio Pochettino joined Spurs from Southampton in 2014 and transformed the club’s fortunes despite failing to win a trophy in his five-and-a-half years in charge. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2019

Spurs sack Pochettino amid results slump

  • Tottenham statement: The club can today announce that Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez have been relieved of their duties
  • Tottenham sit 14th in England’s top flight after picking up just three wins from their opening 12 games, and were eliminated from the League Cup in September by fourth-tier Colchester United

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur sacked manager Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday following a miserable start to the campaign that has seen last season’s Champions League finalists slide down the Premier League table.
Tottenham sit 14th in England’s top flight after picking up just three wins from their opening 12 games, and were eliminated from the League Cup in September by fourth-tier Colchester United.
“The club can today announce that Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez have been relieved of their duties,” Tottenham said in a statement.
Pochettino, 47, joined Spurs from Southampton in 2014 and transformed the club’s fortunes despite failing to win a trophy in his five-and-a-half years in charge.
His side have become Champions League regulars over the past four seasons, culminating in a dramatic run to the club’s first ever European Cup final in June, which they lost 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid.
However, domestically results have been on the decline since February.
Only the faltering form of Arsenal and Manchester United allowed Spurs to cling onto a top-four finish last season as they won just three of their final 12 league games.
That form has continued at the start of this season with Pochettino leaving the club already 11 points outside the Premier League top four and 20 behind leaders Liverpool.
“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” said Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.
“It falls to the board to make the difficult decisions — this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff — but we do so in the club’s best interests.”
The job done by Pochettino was all the more remarkable given the tight budget he was afforded by Levy for transfers and wages in comparison to Tottenham’s Premier League rivals, as the club built a new stadium at a cost of over £1 billion.
Spurs were forced to play at temporary home Wembley for the entirety of the 2017/18 campaign and most of last season before moving into their new 62,000 capacity ground in April.
After 18 months without signing a single player, Levy finally loosened the purse strings to buy Tanguy Ndombele for a club record £63 million ($79 million) in July and added Giovani lo Celso on loan and Ryan Sessegnon in the summer transfer window.
However, injuries have prevented that trio making an instant impact, while Pochettino bemoaned the disruptive effect of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all entering the final year of their contracts.
“Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history,” added Levy.
“I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here.
“We have a talented squad. We need to re-energise and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”


Patient Abid cuts his way into cricket history at age 32

Updated 16 December 2019

Patient Abid cuts his way into cricket history at age 32

  • He has long been knocking at the doors of international cricket
  • Abid is now the oldest Pakistani player to score a century on debut

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: Nobody can accuse 32-year-old Abid Ali of not seizing his chances when given them.
Pakistan drew its first test at home in 10 years against Sri Lanka at the Pindi Cricket Stadium after rain washed out more than half of the match, but not before Abid had smashed a century on debut. He was batting at the same venue where Pakistan great Younis Khan scored a century on his test debut in 2000 — also against Sri Lanka.
Abid completed a unique double, becoming the batsman in the history of the sport to score a century in both his ODI and test debuts.
More than 12,000 cricket-starved fans — popularly known as ‘The Pindi Boys’ — enjoyed every moment of the opener’s innings under bright sunshine. He hit an unbeaten 109, featuring 11 fours. Six of those boundaries were his favorite cut shots.
Abid has long been knocking at the doors of international cricket but had to wait patiently until he got his chance in March this year during the limited-overs series.
A scintillating ODI century against Australia in the United Arab Emirates was not enough to convince the selectors that he was ready for the all-important World Cup in England.
But Abid didn’t lose heart and continued to polish his skills at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. He was among the 16-man squad which toured Australia for the recent two-test series but couldn’t fit in new coach Misbah-ul-Haq’s plans. Pakistan returned home after heavy losses at Brisbane and Adelaide, where Abid watched from the sidelines.
Abid’s hopes were raised once again when he was selected for the home series against Sri Lanka, but there were still pundits who didn’t believe he’d get a chance in Rawalpindi.
“I had never grumbled whenever I was ignored,” Abid said. “I have patience. I believed that my time will come ... Thankfully I got my chance and what else you could ask for than a hundred on debut. I waited a long for this very day and here I am.”
Only 5.2 overs could be bowled on the third day and the entire fourth day was washed out due to wet conditions.
Bright sunshine welcomed players on the last day and Abid seized the opportunity Sunday after Sri Lanka declared its first innings at 308-6 once Dhananjaya de Silva had scored his sixth test hundred.
Together with Pakistan’s most reliable batsman Babar Azam, who scored his third test hundred, Abid enthralled fans under perfect batting conditions.
Abid, now the oldest Pakistani player to score a century on debut, said he didn’t want to be compared with the greats of the game.
“I am an ordinary player and I can’t match great players,” he said. “I am Abid Ali and please see me as Abid Ali only.”
But one of those greats has already acknowledged that a star is on the rise in the Pakistan team.
“We call him Legend” in the dressing room, Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis tweeted after Abid’s century.