Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino hinted he would consider walking away from the club if they were to crown his fifth season at the helm with Champions League glory.
Spurs will attempt to overturn a 1-0 semi-final deficit against Ajax at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on Wednesday after Donny van de Beek’s strike proved the difference between the sides in north London last week.
Pochettino’s work since arriving at Tottenham in 2014 has seen him linked with some of the most high-profile jobs in world football.
This season he was touted as the next boss of both Manchester United and Real Madrid before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Zinedine Zidane filled the respective vacancies at their former clubs.
With Tottenham now in residence at their impressive new stadium, Pochettino previously stated he would be tempted to see out a 20-year tenure.
However, at his pre-match news conference, he suggested Spurs going all the way in Europe’s premier competition would represent a high unlikely to be repeated.
“Winning the Champions League, that should be a fantastic thing, close a five-year chapter and go home,” he said.
Asked at the very end of the briefing whether he was joking, Pochettino shed a little more light on his potential future plans – albeit in a playful manner.
“That’s not a joke, why [would it be]?” he said.
“To win the Champions League with Tottenham in this circumstance, this season, maybe I need to think a little bit about doing something different in the future, for sure.
“Because to repeat this miracle … you know?
“But, for sure I go home. Whatever happens tomorrow I go home.”
Pochettino once again expressed disappointment with Spurs’ first-leg showing, where they were entirely overrun during a blistering opening half hour from Ajax.
“In the first leg, how we started the game was really poor,” he said. “We need to feel more freedom to play tomorrow. There is nothing to lose.”
Davinson Sanchez will miss out through a thigh problem, although Pochettino is optimistic Jan Vertonghen can play despite the facial injury he sustained in the initial encounter with his former club.
Selection headaches have been a regular issue for the Argentine tactician over recent weeks, with his latest challenge coming on Saturday when red cards for Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth left Spurs reduced to nine men at Bournemouth.
Nevertheless, Pochettino does not feel those unexpected exertions at the Vitality Stadium will have a lingering effect.
“It is not a problem,” he said. “Do you think they ran more than they normally run? They ran the same because we were a little bit deeper [with nine men].
“For sure tomorrow we are going to be ready with all the energy. It is not a problem, where 11 against nine means you run double.”
A penalty shoot-out finale is not out of the question, although preparation for such an eventuality has not been at the forefront of Pochettino’s mind.
“We didn’t have time to practice penalties this week but, of course, we have practiced penalties,” he added, before giving some credit to the journalist who asked the question.
“Maybe we will practice penalties now. Good idea. [If we win on penalties] I will give you part of my bonus.”