Spurs's Mauricio Pochettino avoids speculation of managing Real Madrid
Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino says he is focusing on the present and not paying attention to speculation that he may be offered a chance to coach Real Madrid next season.
After a record-breaking 2017 that saw Real Madrid lift five trophies for the first time in the club's history, including a La Liga title and a second consecutive Champions League triumph, the Spanish giants have hit hard times and are 19 points adrift of leaders Barcelona in the domestic competition.
Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Villarreal added to the uncertainty that Real coach Zinedine Zidane will remain at the club. When told that many Real Madrid fans would like to see Pochettino coaching Real next season, the former Espanyol manager told Onda Cero radio that he can only say he is happy at Tottenham.
"Football will take me where football wants to," Pochettino said. "[Former Argentina international] Jorge Grifa, who was like a second father to me, would tell me, 'Don't think too much, enjoy the present, be professional and responsible and let football take you where it wants to.'"
Tied to Spurs until June 2021, the Argentine is in his fourth campaign at the helm of the London outfit.
Pochettino says Real's ups and downs this season are a part of football.
"That's football everywhere, not just in Spain but in England," the 45-year-old said. "And each time is worse."
Pochetttino is not the only Tottenham man being talked about by Real supporters. England international Harry Kane reportedly tops the list of players that Real fans want for next season.
The 24-year-old forward's brace in a 4-0 home triumph over Everton on Saturday lifted his tally to 20 goals in 22 league appearances this season. In doing so, he became Spurs' all-time leading Premier League scorer with 98 goals.
"It's not just this season, but since he appeared, Harry immediately started to prove the quality he has," Pochettino said. "In the three years he has been at Tottenham, he has broken all the records."
Spurs, fifth in the Premier League standings, will take on Juventus in the Champions League round of 16 next month.
They travel to Turin on Feb. 13 before hosting the Bianconeri on March 7.
"It's going to be a very difficult tie," Pochettino said. "It's the best team in Italy and the runners-up of last season's Champions League. It's going to be challenging for us and for them too as we shall show them."
Pochettino, meanwhile, did not want to talk about the feud between Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Both coaches have traded insults in the past and Mourinho said on Friday that the Italian tactician, like others in the past, acted "like victims when they're not the victims."
"It's a personal issue as they declared," Pochettino said. "I don't comment on this. I don't enter situations that are of a personal nature."
Pochettino was not surprised that one of his former players, Philippe Coutinho, decided to join Barcelona from Liverpool in a deal worth up to £142 million.
"I know Philippe from when we brought him [on loan] from Inter [Milan] to Espanyol [in 2012]," he said. "I coached him for six months when he was 17.
"We know that Barcelona for Brazilians is a special city. Obviously, for Philippe, after five years in Liverpool, where it's very cold and it rains a lot, and when you have your wife and children, it's difficult for a Brazilian to turn down a chance like this one. Also, he is joining one of the best clubs in world and the excitement of playing with [Lionel] Messi must also be a factor."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.