Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino says he is ready to return to management quickly, showing no interest in an extended break from the game.
The Argentine had led Spurs to the UEFA Champions League final last season and remains one of the most sought-after coaches in the game.
But he was sacked by the north London club last month and replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Yet, while talking in an interview of his “love” for Tottenham, he did not rule out a return to Spurs at some stage in his career.
The Argentine, in his first comments to journalists since his exit from Spurs, also said there was no club he would not talk to ——- even Arsenal.
Pochettino said that after spending time with his parents and family in Argentina he is now getting prepared for whatever his next challenge will be.
“After five and a half years in Tottenham it is a weird time for us. But at the same time very relaxed, very happy when you look backwards. And of course obviously in life you need to move on,” he said.
Pochettino told a small group of reporters in Qatar ahead of the Club World Cup final between Liverpool and Flamengo that he was recharging his batteries.
He added that he was aiming to “be ready if something arrives and of course (I am) open to listen”.
Asked about a possible return to the English Premier League, Pochettino said: “Of course I love the Premier League, I love the English fans.
“I think it is one of the best leagues in the world and I think for any manager it is so exciting to be involved in the Premier League.
“But we will see, there is not only Premier League, there are different leagues in the world, different clubs that can be exciting, to give you a challenge that is maybe different.
“Now, it is true that we haven’t had time to think too much of the future, we have been thinking only of ourselves, to recover and be ready, because that is the key point, to be ready when something happens and to be more prepared to give to a club that is interested in you, the best of you.”
Tottenham’s arch rivals Arsenal had sacked their Spanish manager Unai Emery last month, prompting some media speculation about whether Pochettino could be a target for them.
The Gunners, however, appointed Mikel Arteta on Friday, a man to whom Pochettino said he felt like a “big brother”.
Pochettino, who once said he could never work for FC Barcelona having been with their local rivals Espanyol, did not directly answer whether he had received any approach from Arsenal.
Neither did he say whether any other club had approached him.
Yet he said he was not going to rule out talking to any club, and suggested he would have listened to the Gunners.
His exit from Spurs, along with his long-time assistant Jesus Perez, has not, however, diminished his affection for the club.
The Argentine did not rule out the possibility of one day returning, noting that Zinedine Zidane had left Real Madrid and then gone back to the club.
“I don’t know. You look what happened with Zidane and Real Madrid. There are plenty of examples. The most important thing is that when a relationship finishes it finishes in a very good way,” he said, with Perez standing nearby.
“Managers sometimes leave a club and go back, but now it is not in my hands.”
While his departure from Spurs, after a poor start to the season, clearly hurt Pochettino, he said he was pleased to see the team’s form change for the better under Mourinho.
“Of course, I love Tottenham, I love the fans, I love the players, I love the club, the staff,” he said.
“When you leave a club, always you want them to win games because that means that the team is alive, that it is prepared to compete.
“For different reasons you split, but we are people that always want the best. I am happy that they are winning games because that love is never going to change. You accept that in football it can happen, but I am happy to see the team winning games.”
While the 47-year-old is enjoying his time away from the pressure of the game, he said he is already preparing for the next step in his career.
“You have to be ready to start if you believe it is the right moment,” he said.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
Bale may extend Spurs’ stay beyond loan spell, agent says
Tottenham Hotspur’s new loan signing Gareth Bale could extend his stay at the north London club beyond the season, the forward’s agent said on Tuesday.
The Welshman is presently looking to end his spell with Spanish clubside Real Madrid.
Bale returned to Spurs after seven years when Real Madrid sanctioned a loan last week following the 31-year-old’s fallout with manager Zinedine Zidane.
The French coach did not select him for matches towards the end of last season’s league title run.
Bale was signed from Southampton as a promising left-back in 2007.
He scored 56 goals in 203 games for Tottenham before leaving them in 2013 for a then world record 100 million euros (117.28 million dollars) move to Madrid.
“I’m sure that if things really worked out well, we’d have no problem (extending his stay),” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett said.
“This is the club he wants to play at. I don’t see any problems if he wants another year.”
Bale, who has scored more than 100 goals for Real Madrid and won the UEFA Champions League four times, has two years left on his contract at the Spanish club.
“Hopefully the subject (of returning to Madrid) won’t come up,” Barnett added. “He will be so successful at Tottenham he’ll want to stay and it will be a simple deal to do the rest.”
Spurs confirmed last week that Bale, who injured his knee while playing for Wales in the UEFA Nations League this month, is unavailable for now.
He is likely to be match fit only after the international break next month.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Hungary and UEFA taking big risk having fans at Super Cup match, health expert warns
Organisers run a huge risk by allowing 20,000 fans to attend a major football match, a leading Hungarian epidemiologist said on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup final in Budapest.
A huge crowd is being allowed for the first time at a football match in Europe since the new coronavirus outbreak.
European football’s governing body UEFA normally kicks off the season with the Super Cup match between the Champions League and Europa League winners.
It said it would see how the game with spectators works in Hungary’s capital.
The new Puskas Arena is a recently completed pet project of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an avid football fan.
It will be up to one-third full for the showdown between European champions Bayern Munich and Europa League title holders Sevilla.
UEFA has said all safety precautions would be observed.
However, Andras Csilek, who advises the Hungarian Medical Chamber, told Reuters that the game’s timing “could not be worse”.
His comment has come with the background of the pandemic’s second wave grows around Europe, topping 600 new cases a day in Hungary.
“It would have had the same terrible effect in the first two to four weeks (of the pandemic), and the plausible effects one can now expect are equally terrible,” Csilek said. “Just think of the football games we know sparked spring madness in Italy.”
Experts have traced a surge in Italy’s COVID-19 infections to February football matches and the Venice Carnival, he added.
“Placing the fans in a stadium… (separation) is not really feasible, especially as fans gather before and after games… Public transit, entry crowds, finding your seats, toilets, beer stands, celebrations, or a fight: plausible infection points.”
Hungary’s government is trying to “keep the country going” to avoid an economic disaster while containing the virus, the country’s nationalist leader Orban has said.
“Super Cup match measures will be so strict that it will be safer to attend than almost any other social gathering,” Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas had said on Monday.
European countries, including Germany, have placed Hungary on a watch list as coronavirus cases rise, and Bavarian premier Markus Soeder has warned fans to stay away from Budapest.
“Nobody knows where this leads, but if it is an experiment, that is wrong,” Csilek said. “You don’t experiment with people.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Bavarian premier warns of risk of mass infection at UEFA Super Cup
Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder on Monday urged Bayern Munich fans not to travel to the UEFA Super Cup match against Sevilla in Budapest this week.
Soeder said such travel heightens the risk of turning the event into a hotbed for COVID-19 to spread.
“My stomach hurts thinking about the Super Cup. Budapest is a risk area.
“We have to be very careful that we don’t risk turning it into a football-Ischgl,” the premier said.
Thousands of people were infected with the virus at the Austrian winter resort of Ischgl earlier this year.
This happened as the virus found a breeding ground in crowded apres-ski bars early on in the outbreak.
Soeder said should several thousand Bavarians travel to Hungary, then they should go into quarantine upon their return.
Hungary is seeing a rise in cases.
A decision on tighter health measures will be taken on Tuesday.
“My appeal will be to think about it again and see if this is really necessary.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Italy to host Netherlands in Bergamo in honour of COVID-19 victims
Italy will play next month’s UEFA Nations League home match against The Netherlands in Bergamo to honour the town that was severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic earlier in the year.
Besides remembering the people who died in Bergamo, the Italian football federation (FIGC) said on Monday the match was relocated from Milan’s Giuseppe Meazza to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.
It added that the Oct. 14 match would take place behind closed doors.
“The Azzurri, who will be in Bergamo from Oct. 12 onwards, will pay homage to the city, while adhering to all the necessary sanitary protocols,” FIGC said.
Bergamo and its province, which lies east of Milan, reported thousands of cases when the pandemic peaked in northern Italy during March and April.
Coronavirus deaths have since considerably dropped in the country, where more than 35,000 casualties have been reported.
The Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia has recently been renovated to host Atalanta’s UEFA Champions League games.
Italy last played in Bergamo in 2006.
Italy will play a friendly against Moldova in Florence on Oct. 7, a match originally scheduled to take place in Parma.
Four days later, the national team will visit Poland in Danzig for the third round of the Nations League.
Italy are top in Group A1 of the competition’s top tier.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)