Marcelo Bielsa, the famed legendary Argentinian coach, is credited with the high pressing type of football favoured by both Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino. Pochettino played under Bielsa for the national team, earning some of his 20 caps.
Pep Guardiola has acceded to the influence of Bielsa in his great Barcelona side of 2009-2013. Klopp used the same technique at Dortmund in his seven year spell there.
There are a lot of analogous common themes in the game plan of Pochettino and Klopp. Both prefer young hungry athletic players, and both have the opinion “if you wish to leave my football club, no problem”. Pochettino lost Shaw, Lallana, Clyne, Chambers, Lovren at Southampton and Klopp lost Gotze, Lewandowski, Kroos, Kagawa, both embraced the process without unduly complaining. Neither of these managers have bemoaned anything in the structure of their football clubs, with Pochettino having a very productive relationship with Nicola Cortese who appointed him at Southampton and Klopp had an excellent relationship with Michael Zorc at Dortmund.
Interestingly both played as centre-backs, with Pochettino having the more stellar playing career. Neither of these managers suffer prima-donnas, regardless of your status as a player you are expected to work your socks off with an aimed 16 kilometres per match per player being the rough benchmark. Analysis and statistics play a huge part in both of their game preparations creating enthusiastic high energy vibrant teams with pressing as the dominant theme.
Both managers prefer small tight squads rather than huge numbers of players, Klopp shipped out 17 players in his first season at Dortmund. Pochettino has done a very similar thing at Spurs dispensing with Capoue, Paulinho, Lennon, Gomes, Townsend, Adebayor and Chirches in 18 months. The preference for young impressionable players is driven by their inherent hunger and their desire to learn and improve daily. Respect is a major theme, characterised by how Pochettino has jettisoned Andros Townsend after a minor affray with the Spurs fitness coach.
Consequently their time is not consumed by managing egos, which saps even the greatest managers. Team morale and atmosphere can be far more easily influenced and manipulated with fewer ageing professionals. Pochettino’s interview post match in the Norwich game aptly sums it up, “People say youngsters make mistakes, I have seen senior pro’s make the same number of mistakes, that is football.”
Klopp and Pochettino also have a fairly heavy reliance on marauding full-backs, Clyne and Moreno are very offensive, at Dortmund he had Schmelzer and Piszczek bombing forwards. Pochettino has created a perfect four that he rotates: Rose, Davies, Walker and Trippier, all very quick, with a good delivery of a cross. At Southampton he effectively created the careers of Clyne and Luke Shaw, as offensive energetic full-backs.
Klopp and Pochettino also have a heavy reliance on the No.10 role, Klopp excelled superbly with Gotze, Sahin, Kagawa and Mkhitaryan. At Liverpool injuries have prevented a firm decision but Coutinho and Firmino are very much of this ilk, skilful, clever, great touch with pace. A lot of Spurs’ offensive play is orchestrated by the excellent Christian Eriksen a cultured player schooled at the famed Ajax academy.
Coincidently they can also both rapidly assess a players attributes, Pochettino has re-deployed Eric Dier sublimely into a holding midfielder from a centre-back. Klopp famously moved Lukasz Piszczek from a striker into a marauding right-back at Dortmund. Bob Paisley and Brian Clough famously also had that trait of spotting and re-deploying players into more productive positions on the pitch with Ray Kennedy and John McGovern respectively.
Klopp had Sven Bender as his hustling player at Dortmund, and he has Jordan Henderson in that role at Anfield. Pochettino has brought in from the cold ex-Fulham player Moussa Dembelle to excellent effect, a player marginalised under the previous manager Tim Sherwood.
Klopp signed Ciro Immobile at Dortmund and the big money transfer never worked out, and Pochettino signed Dani Osvaldo at Southampton who similarly was a huge disappointment, facetiously and slightly tongue in cheek I don’t think either will delve heavily in the Italian transfer market.