Mauricio Pochettino and Rafa Benitez have very different challenges ahead of the start of the new Premier League season.
In only five days time the two managers face each other once again in the opening match of the season.
The Newcastle boss has been badly let down when it comes to essential signings, Rafa going public with the fact that once again Mike Ashley had blocked him bringing in his top targets which he’d lined up.
The net result is that instead of bringing in the top targets he wanted and having them in training and games in pre-season, he has instead had to go way down his list of preferred signing, and with three days until transfer deadline, the Newcastle boss is still waiting to see how many of the four or five players he still desperately wants to bring in.
The problem for Mauricio Pochettino is very different, rather than a manipulative and intransigent club owner ruining his pre-season preparations, it is the World Cup that has interfered with the planning of the Spurs boss.
Today (Monday) will be the first time he will have all nine of those players who were involved right up until the final two days of the World Cup
England’s Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier and Danny Rose along with Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele. Belgium beating England in the third/fourth place play-off. In addition, World Cup winning keeper Hugo Lloris will also join them at training today.
Mauricio Pochettino believes it is ‘almost impossible’ for any of these nine players to be fit to face Newcastle and it is taking a longer-term view.
Saying there is no way he will consider including them if there is any ‘risk’ whatsoever, of them then becoming unavailable due to coming back too soon.
In the absence of so many first choice players, Spurs have done remarkably well, beating both AC Milan and Roma in their North American tour, as well as drawing 2-2 with Barcelona.
The weekend though saw a very young Tottenham team hammered 4-1 by La Liga side Girona, though many of the players had only stepped off a plane from America some 48 hours earlier.
One thing seems for sure and that is it won’t be until very late in the week that Rafa Benitez and Mauricio Pochettino will be deciding their line-ups.
Here’s hoping that home advantage can make a difference and whatever Newcastle side lines up, they can rise to the occasion, because it is such a tough set of opening fixtures.
“It would be better for these players (who were involved on the final weekend of the World Cup finals) to miss the first one or two games, than to play and end up getting injured, missing more games further down the line.
“It is a massive challenge for these players to get fit in time for the Newcastle game…almost impossible.
“If we feel it is too much of a risk to play these players, then no matter how much work they have been doing, we will not play them.
“I messaged Harry Kane (after he turned up for training early) saying he was showing great commitment. He replied ‘Gaffer, I want to be ready for Newcastle.’
“I told him you need to rest, because 20 days is the minimum time you need to have off at the end of a season, to ensure a full recovery.
“It shows great commitment, but we will assess all of the returning players on Monday, and we will not be taking any risks.
“It’s going to be a long season and we need to ensure that these players have had the right amount of recovery before starting it.”