Pochettino (left) has hit out at Gaurdiola over Tottenham's Harry Kane (centre)
If anything, he wanted the question to be asked.
The international break had robbed him of an immediate opportunity to reply to Pep Guardiola’s description of Tottenham as “the Harry Kane team” but this could wait two more weeks for Friday's press conference to preview the game against Bournemouth.
The fuse, it turns out, had been burning for nearly eight years. However, it was only as Pochettino chatted in the aftermath of his deliberately explosive on-camera rant that he inadvertently revealed just how big the powder-keg had become.
Remember, Guardiola was the first manager Mauricio Pochettino ever crossed swords with – Espanyol earning a goalless draw against Barcelona in the former Argentina international’s first game in charge of a senior side.
Although Pochettino continued to impress with the poorer cousins of Catalonia, Guardiola – just eight months his forerunner as a manager and barely a year older – had the world’s greatest player in Lionel Messi at his disposal and was winning everything in sight.
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The pair’s final meeting in La Liga was a 4-0 drubbing for Pochettino in the Nou Camp and six months later he was sacked for the only time in his life. Who scored that day? Messi got all four of them.
“When people told me about the comment, I said, ‘No, it’s not possible,’” said Pochettino. “Why? Because I understand him very well. If you are in Barcelona and you have Messi in your team, there is always a temptation to say that you only won because of Messi in the team.
“But always I have been a football person who supports the job of the manager, of Pep. Without organisation, without a great job from the manager it is difficult to win. So I never said it was ‘the Messi team’.”
The further twist of Guardiola’s knife two weeks ago had come when he had gone on to reference Manchester United as the ‘Jose Mourinho team’.
Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Gaurdiola back in 2010
Pochettino says he never called Gaurdiola's Barcelona side 'the Messi team'
“I don’t know why he showed so much respect to Manchester United,” he continued. “In the same way he could have said ‘the Romelu Lukaku team’. But in the same sentence he said Manchester United and Mourinho, he said Tottenham was the Harry Kane team. It was very disrespectful to the club.”
Pochettino insists it is not about him personally, but the subtext was clearly enough was enough. He often leans upon his assistant Jesus Perez for some of the niceties of the English language but nothing had been lost in translation in the very personal nature of some of the criticisms he levelled.
“It is funny,” he had begun, patronising the Manchester City manager immediately. “When he is excited after an amazing victory against Chelsea, sometimes, he struggles to keep his position and be a gentleman.”
By the end of the press conference, Pochettino had have left his subject in tatters.
“It’s a sad comment,” he had concluded. “He’s a great manager, one of the best managers in the world, so why make that comment? It doesn’t help him. It’s not a good thing for anyone.”
Mauricio Pochettino (right) has overseen the progression of Harry Kane at Spurs
Nothing travels faster up the M6 than a good managerial row, and word had been spread surreptitiously ahead of Guardiola’s briefing with the national newspaper journalists ahead of their game against Stoke.
“Disrespectful? That’s what he said?” he asked. “When I talked about Harry Kane’s team, it was because Harry Kane was scoring a lot of goals. And I know perfectly that Tottenham are not Harry Kane alone.
“But I think Mauricio has made a mistake. Never in my career have I not been respectful.”
Tottenham travel to the Etihad on December 16. It might not be very festive, though.