Mauricio Pochettino has said it would be a ‘mistake’ to compare Arsenal and Tottenham, despite the stadium move similarities, but the reasons he doesn’t want you to compare are not what you think.

MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 30: Mauricio Pochettino, head coach of Tottenham looks on before the Audi Cup 2019 semi final match between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur at Allianz Arena on July 30, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY – JULY 30: Mauricio Pochettino, head coach of Tottenham looks on before the Audi Cup 2019 semi final match between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur at Allianz Arena on July 30, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Anyone would imagine being compared to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal – at any stage of his two decades at the club – would be a flattering thing for a manager who has yet to win a single trophy in his time in charge of any club.

But not Mauricio Pochettino.

Despite the striking similarities with the two clubs, albeit 14 years apart, Pochettino believes that Spurs are doing something ‘different’ and that Arsenal just, well, read for yourself…

“Different clubs, they ask the bank for £600m to invest in the team,” said Pochettino. “Like Barcelona. They create a debt signing players and put the debt on the pitch, trying to win. We’re different.

“We need to create the legacy for the future. In this period, we’re suffering the restrictions, but it’s normal. We need to work hard to find a way to compete in this very tough league. But it’s a mistake to compare clubs.”

Mail on Sunday 1 September 2019

I wondered if I wasn’t, perhaps, missing something. Maybe the Mail on Sunday had clipped his quote in such a way that it read like this and they left out a key bit of context, so I went looking for the whole thing. He has form in this area, so I wasn’t overly willing to give him all the benefit of the doubt. Still, knowing the media, I gave him some.

“We all cry [about the £600m debt to build their stadium],” Pochettino said as reported by The Guardian. “Do people need to remember that number? Yes. Different clubs ask the bank for £600m to invest in the team, like Barcelona or different clubs. They create a debt by signing players; putting the debt on the pitch, trying to win.”

That is slightly different and you can see where the MoS has twisted to better suit their needs. But Poch wasn’t finished…

He added, “Arsenal, in the last two years, signed Aubameyang, the best striker in Germany; Lacazette, the best striker in France and, one year after, Pépé.

“If you see us in five years … now our main striker is Harry Kane but our second specific striker is 17 years old, Troy Parrott. That is the difference in the projects.

“I don’t want to say one is wrong and another is good. It’s only that the way we operate is completely different and, afterwards, we need to compete. Mercedes compete with Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull. After, we compete in the same race and, if you judge, the judgments need not only to be on the race but the whole process. That is why sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s not fair.”

Does he really think that Arsenal went to the bank, asked for £600m and then spent it all on players? Has he really got no memory whatsoever of the time Arsenal, having just moved into their new stadium, had to sell big-name stars and replace them in the side with players like Denilson?

Pochettino has always had this problem. He thinks that what they are doing at Tottenham is somehow ‘special’ and ‘unique’. It’s not. Arsenal did it 14 years ago – and they did it better. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is now the second largest in the Premier League, just like the Emirates was when it first opened, but that’s where the similarities stop. Arsenal didn’t spend £1bn on a stadium that was only meant to cost £500m. They didn’t open their stadium a year late and they didn’t go into their new home having not won a trophy worth talking about for nearly 30 years.

Sure, Arsenal have spent money recently, but only after 10 years of austerity.

And shall we just ignore them spending £54m on Tanguy Ndombele this summer? Or the £36m they spent on Davinson Sanchez? How about the £31.5m they spent on Moussa Sissoko? All three bought in the last three years. It’s hardly Arsenal’s fault that Spurs have spent that money on midfielders and defenders than forwards, is it? Well, they did spend almost £20m on Vincent Janssen, but it’s not surprising Poch doesn’t want to talk about that.

You don’t hear Pochettino talking about the time Arsenal had Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner as their striking options, do you? Of course you don’t. That would require him to have some sort of self-awareness to tell him he isn’t special, Spurs aren’t doing anything different, and you get no ‘legacy’ for simply ‘putting the pressure on’.

Cry on, Poch. Cry on…