LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino’s reputation went up another notch as his side beat Arsenal 2-0 to reach the League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday but they face a daunting task to win their first silverware under the Argentine.
Pochettino’s work at Tottenham, who he has led to three successive top-three finishes in the Premier League, has made him the favourite to become Manchester United’s new manager in the summer after Jose Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday.
For all the many attributes that have put him firmly on the Old Trafford radar, the only box he does not tick since arriving at Tottenham from Southampton in 2014 is trophies.
Correcting that in the League Cup, deemed to be the most minor prize in England, is now within reach but it will still involve a gargantuan effort.
The joy of goals by Son Heung-min and Dele Alli to claim victory over their bitter rivals was rather diluted by the draw which pitted Tottenham against Chelsea in the semi-finals with holders Manchester City almost certainly waiting in the final after they were paired with third-tier Burton Albion.
Tottenham have beaten London top-flight rivals Watford, West Ham United and Arsenal to reach the last four of the competition they won under coach Juande Ramos by beating Chelsea in the 2008 final — their last silverware.
They will now have to overcome Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea in what Pochettino says will be a “crazy” January.
The first leg will be played in the week of Jan. 7 with the return on Jan. 21, meaning Tottenham face seven matches in the first month of next year including a home Premier League clash against Manchester United. That comes after nine matches in December.
Asked what it would mean to deliver Tottenham a long-awaited trophy, Pochettino said the challenge of winning silverware in England’s fiercely competitive environment should not be underestimated.
“It’s unfair to talk about winning titles in this competitive country, it’s so difficult,” Pochettino, who took Tottenham to the League Cup final in 2015 but lost to Chelsea, told reporters after Tottenham’s first win at Arsenal in eight years.
“The most important thing is to create a competitive team and I think the last few seasons we have done that. Then you need some luck.
“It’s going to be crazy January. We are going now in a crazy period but January is going to be, I don’t know, I don’t want to think too much. People ask why managers rotate.”
It will not get any easier for Pochettino either with Borussia Dortmund waiting in the last 16 of the Champions League which resumes in February.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond