There’s a world of difference between Mr Bean and a former Manchester United manager. There’s also only a two letter difference.
The understandable confusion from a man whose first language isn’t English was a highlight of Mauricio Pochettino’s time with the media, looking ahead to his first return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since being sacked.
Poch is a fan of Mr Bean – he knows exactly who (Mr Bean actor) Rowan Atkinson is. But, he has no idea who Ron Atkinson is!
So, a good question provoked a good laugh and, eventually, a very good answer. A fact amidst the frivolity.
“Mauricio”, he was asked. “Are you worried about doing a Ron Atkinson? Are you worried about sitting in the wrong dugout when you get there [Monday night]?”
The answer provoked the kind of laughs any comedian would be happy with.
“Ah, yes. Mr Bean. Ron Atkinson is the actor. The actor of Mr Bean,” says Pochettino.
Here there was a pause in proceedings where a smiling Poch joined in the laughter. Even the Chelsea press officer saw the funny side, before gathering his thoughts and helping his manager out.
“He’s a manager. A former manager – Aston Villa and Man Utd,” Pochettino was told.
“Ah OK,” he replied. “A different word. I was thinking of the actor.”
All great fun.
Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino shares his excitement to return to Tottenham Hotspur ahead of their MNF clash and reflects on their ‘amazing memories’ they had together.
But then, once true identity was established, and the reason behind the question clarified, the revelation arrived.
For those who don’t watch compilations of sports funniest moments, here’s a bit of background.
In January 1999, Nottingham Forest were struggling in the Premier League, and appointed Ron Atkinson to try and save them.
His first game in charge at the City Ground was against Arsenal in the League Cup. As the cameras rolled and the photographers followed him out of the tunnel, he waved at the fans, and sat down in the dugout. Milking the applause.
Trouble is – it was the wrong dugout.
He only realized he was in Arsene Wenger’s seat when he spotted Marc Overmars on the bench next to him.
Fast forward almost a quarter of a century, and there is NO risk of this happening to Pochettino on Monday night.
He knows better than anyone which dugout is which. He designed it!
“I know very well where the away dugout is,” he says with complete confidence.
“I know very well, because I decided where it was! The home dugout and the away. I was there. I was with the architect. I said to him, ‘on the right is home and away on the left’. I know very well.”
‘I won’t celebrate but want to win even when I play my kids’
Pochettino says he won’t celebrate if Chelsea scores. That’s because it’s not his style, and nothing to do with being in front of his former club’s fans.
“If you see me, I am so quiet on the touchline,” he says. “Normally it is difficult for me to celebrate goals, I am more focused on the game, I turn (to coaches) and say ‘what is going on with this and that’. I like to celebrate when it’s finished. When you win the game you celebrate.
“I want to win. When I play with my kids I want to beat them. Or my dad, or my brothers, or my friends!”
And that same hunger for victory is the only reason he wants to win on Monday night. He insists there are no thoughts of revenge for his sacking of him.
“I want to win because I am competitive. But I don’t want to go there and think it’s about revenge. Winning won’t be special because we beat them. It’s important because we need the points.”
Not yet in love with Chelsea
Pochttino was asked if he could ever love another club like he loved Spurs.
“It’s difficult to say that. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow?”
Is he beginning to fall in love with Chelsea?
“After five months? Come on. I cannot lie. I hope we can reach the same level that I was at Tottenham. But at the moment it’s a tough situation.”
Will he manage Tottenham again?
“Who knows? For sure, if I’m not working and they want me, why not?”
Sonny makes me happy
Heung-Min Son was signed by Pochettino, and he’s delighted to see him as Tottenham captain.
“He’s a great professional and a great player. I’m so happy that he’s captain,” says Pochettino.
“Always when people I love are happy and doing well that increases my happiness. I really enjoy it when someone who is part of my life is doing well.
“He has grown and become more mature. Spurs have been top of the table so he’s obviously doing a good job as captain.”