Tottenham Fires Mauricio Pochettino

Five months after leading Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League final and five years into a tenure in which he transformed Spurs from a perennial also-ran into a Premier League title contender, Mauricio Pochettino was fired by the north London club on Tuesday.

Tottenham’s chairman, Daniel Levy, confirmed the change in a message posted on the club’s website, which appeared to crash as news of the firing spread. Levy said that while he and the club’s board had been “extremely reluctant to make this change,” it had decided to part ways with Pochettino, an Argentine, and the four members of his coaching team “in the club’s best interests.”

“It is not a decision the board has taken lightly, or in haste,” Levy said. “Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls on 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.”

Pochettino joined Spurs in 2014 after an 18-month spell in charge of Southampton. Tottenham had finished sixth the previous season, and dissatisfaction ran so high that Pochettino’s immediate predecessor, Tim Sherwood, had at one point invited a complaining fan to sit on the manager’s bench.

The Spurs team that Pochettino leaves behind is barely recognizable from those days. Despite operating on a far stricter budget than the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, he twice came close to leading a bright, young team to the Premier League title — eventually beaten out by Leicester City in 2016 and Chelsea a year later. In May, he guided his side past Manchester City and Ajax to its first Champions League final.

Before that game, Pochettino suggested he would walk away from Spurs if the team beat Liverpool to lift club soccer’s biggest prize; in hindsight, it was a hint that he realized he had taken the club as far as he could. Pochettino had overseen Tottenham’s long-awaited move into its new stadium, adjacent to its old home at White Hart Lane, and he had brought through a clutch of young players while keeping pace with bigger, richer foes.

But Spurs’ domestic form had been in a tailspin for months. Despite a comparatively generous summer transfer budget, which helped to bring the likes of Tanguy Ndombélé and Giovani Lo Celso to the team, Pochettino has been unable to turn around the slide. Tottenham currently sits 14th in the Premier League, its chances of returning to the Champions League next season drifting with every passing week.

He also has, since the start of the season, frequently made dark mention of dissatisfaction behind the scenes. Several high-profile Tottenham players will reach the end of their contracts this season, and have yet to renew them. Other players, like defender Danny Rose, have made no secret of their desire to leave.

His work at Spurs, though, means Pochettino will not be short of appealing suitors whenever he chooses to return to soccer. He has been a long-term target for Manchester United and Real Madrid, and both Bayern Munich and Juventus have been tracking his career for some time.

Levy, meanwhile, has a different kind of choice to make as he plots to revive Spurs’ flagging form. Pochettino and his staff signed new contracts last year — deals that were supposed to tie them to Spurs until 2023 — and their payouts are thought to total more than $15 million. That is likely to force Levy to consider replacements who are currently out of work, including the former United and Chelsea boss José Mourinho and the former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.