Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is two massive wins away from establishing himself in the upper echelons of European football.
If Pochettino’s men manage to stage a miracle, they could be writing the biggest underdog story in the Champions League since Porto in 2003/04. Despite failing to win a single title at the North London club, the Argentine has created a lasting impression and has a chance to take it a step further.
Months before qualifying for the semi-finals of the Champions League, Spurs became the first team in Premier League history to go two straight transfer windows without signing a single player.
In the same period, clubs of all stature bolstered their squad with big-name signings. Fellow semi-finalists Barcelona added Arturo Vidal and Arthur to their roster, while Liverpool were boosted by the signing of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
Premier League giants Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have also been active in the transfer market. Bar the former, all teams have had inferior seasons compared to Spurs and this says more about Pochettino than it does about the transfer dealings of those clubs.
The former Espanyol manager’s counterpart in the semi-finals, Erik ten Hag, is probably the only other manager who can boast of achieving something massive despite limited resources.
The lack of options due to poor planning in the transfer window is not the only obstacle Spurs and Pochettino had to overcome to reach the semi-final. Talisman Harry Kane was injured for a crucial part of their season. This and other injuries in the starting line-up ensured Spurs were handicapped towards the business end of the season.
Yet, they managed to push their way to the last-four, while facing some of the best teams in the world.
To start with, they were drawn in the group of death along with Barcelona, Inter and PSV Eindhoven. Once they made it out, they were tasked to face Borussia Dortmund – Bundesliga leaders who had great momentum at that point.
Pochettino’s men had no problems getting past the German side and booking a spot in the last-eight. In the quarter-finals, they had to get past a Manchester City side that was tearing teams apart for fun in the league.
Clearly, Spurs have endured a tough season and Pochettino deserves credit for their deep run in Europe. An unlikely title would surely place him in the top tier of managers in this era.