By Richard Parks
Rickie Lambert has shed some light on Mauricio Pochettino’s ruthlessness and exacting standards as he explained how the Tottenham manager pushed the Southampton players to new heights during his reign at the club.
Eyebrows were raised when the Argentine was appointed the new Saints manager in January 2013 as a replacement for the sacked Nigel Adkins.
Pochettino made major changes on and off the pitch, which included lifting the fitness of the Southampton players by introducing exhausting Monday training sessions that pushed the players to their physical limits.
Lambert, who has announcement his retirement from playing, recalled in an interview with Radio Solent that it was not all plain sailing during the early days of the Argentine’s reign.
“I just couldn’t cope,” said Lambert of Pochettino’s famous Monday drills. “We would come in on Monday after 90 minutes on the Saturday and do 12 horseshoe runs [of the training pitch].
“I had the bottle to go into his room, pull him to one side very respectfully and I said, ‘Mauricio, listen, we understand what you’re trying to do, but you’re pushing us too much on a Monday, you just need to calm it down, we’re not used to it’.
“Mauricio was dead polite, said ‘yes, that’s fine, I understand’, we shook hands and I went back to the lads, made up, thinking, ‘just sorted it for you boys’.
“Next Monday, we came in and not only did we do 12, we did 24 runs. I was running around laughing, almost crying. I knew what he was doing, he was trying to break me and he did, he broke me.”
????? “I just couldn’t cope”
— BBC Solent Sport (@solentsport) October 10, 2017
Pochettino transformed Southampton from relegation candidates to an established Premier League side during his 18-month spell, steering the club to eighth in his only full season before quitting to join Tottenham in the summer of 2014.
He has subsequently taken Spurs to new heights, including consecutive top-flight finishes of third in 2015-16 and second 12 months later.
In other Tottenham news, Pochettino is set to welcome two key members of his side back to the squad after lengthy absences.