Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pochettino Must Beat Man Who Always Finds a Way; Massimiliano Allegri Has Dealt with Everything Thrown at Him and His Juve Side Will Give Spurs a Tough Examination. Tom Collomosse Reports from Turin

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pochettino Must Beat Man Who Always Finds a Way; Massimiliano Allegri Has Dealt with Everything Thrown at Him and His Juve Side Will Give Spurs a Tough Examination. Tom Collomosse Reports from Turin

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse

MAURICIO POCHETTINO has found a way to defeat all the top managers in England but repeating the trick against his adversary tonight might be his most difficult task yet.

Massimiliano Allegri, the Juventus coach, could have been in the Premier League by now.

There was strong interest from Chelsea in the second half of the 2015-16 season, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, but Antonio Conte was brought to Stamford Bridge instead.

Given Conte's running battle with his employers this season, Roman Abramovich might wonder whether he should have moved for the calmer, more methodical Allegri when he had the chance.

Pochettino becomes prickly when asked to consider comparisons between Tottenham and other clubs, or between himself and other coaches. Yet the work of Allegri should inspire him. Even if his team could beat Juventus over two legs and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals, there is much Pochettino can learn from the Italian.

Among Allegri's many strengths, his adaptability is probably the most significant. At AC Milan, where Allegri won the title in his first season, he preferred a four-man defence yet when he succeeded Conte at Juventus in 2014, he inherited a squad who had swept all before them in Italy by playing 3-5-2. Allegri was clever enough to stick to what had worked, moving gradually towards 4-3-1-2 only as the season progressed. By maintaining Conte's good work and subtly adding his own ingredients, Allegri ensured Juventus retained the Serie A title and also reached the Champions League Final -- something Conte has never come close to achieving.

The added benefit for Allegri was that he developed more malleable players who were capable of adjusting during matches. "I don't think of myself as a manager," Allegri told The Players' Tribune website in a recent interview. "I think of myself as a youth coach.

"I do this job because I love teaching.

It is truly the joy of my life. I like making players better and smarter. When I first arrived at Juventus, I didn't change much as the club had a lot of success under Mr Conte.

"But slowly, as new players arrived, I moved things around, building the team as I saw it -- areas where players could work together, how we could be stronger in attack, how we could be tactically flexible."

Though Pochettino has shown more versatility this season and last than in his first two campaigns at Spurs, it would be intriguing to see how well he would cope with losing a key player -- Christian Eriksen, say, or even, one day, Harry Kane -- to another elite club. Pochettino has been able to hang on to all the players he has wanted to at Tottenham; at Juventus and Milan, Allegri has not.

At Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva - the team's brightest stars - were sold to Paris St Germain in summer 2012. …

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