After being fired from his managerial position with Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino lasted a good while on the free-agent market. However, FC Barcelona came calling the Argentine tactician, but politics played a part in not pursuing him.
In an interview with The Telegraph, former Barça technical secretary Eric Abidal spoke about the club’s managerial search in 2020 after sacking Ernesto Valverde. Abidal talked about the list of candidates they were looking at to replace Valverde, which included Pochettino.
“On my list was Mauricio Pochettino, Quique Setien, Max Allegri and Xavi Hernandez,” Abidal said. “Quique was appointed, but my first option was Pochettino.”
Nonetheless, there’s one problem in pursuing Pochettino. The 49-year-old played seven seasons and managed for three years at crosstown rival RCD Espanyol. As a result, hiring a manager with strong ties to Espanyol would cause an uproar within the supporters.
“I told the board, ‘I have to bring the best coach we can in the market. I’m not here for politics because he was before in Espanyol’. For me, it’s not politics,” Abidal said.
“I wanted the best, and Pochettino is one of the best in our game. He reached the Champions League final with Tottenham. You have to respect this; he has a good philosophy of playing, a good philosophy of training, players love him, and I think he would be a better coach now for this situation, but with a real project.”
Regardless, Abidal revealed that pursuing the best candidate was more important than playing politics. After all, Abidal had Pochettino as the number one target for the Barça. Despite making his pitch, the board decided to go with another candidate, as he explains.
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