It’s tough being a soccer manager.
Tottenham Hotspur has had 12 since the turn of the century, for example. Four Premier League managers (out of 20) were fired around this time last year and a BBC analysis shows why. In the 10 seasons to 2016-17, after a club sacked a manager or he has resigned in October or November, its average points-per-game increased over the remainder of the season.
So how does the current Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, navigate his situation? By binge-watching Netflix.
“We’re having a weird season but I look so happy because I’ve started the new season of House of Cards,” he said. “I watched three episodes on Monday. I’ve learned a lot from this series. I recommend it.”
House of Cards, based on a British TV series, was originally about a US congressman, once played by Kevin Spacey, who claws his way to the presidency through ruthless machinations, including pushing a reporter in front of a train and having a compromised politician killed. The latest and final season—just released, which Pochettino is devouring—is about his possibly-even-crueler wife played by Robin Wright, who is now the president. (Spacey was purged from the show following sexual-assault allegations.)
The Argentine soccer manager, who has been in charge since 2014 and is credited with shaping the team into a consistent title contender, went further on the advice the show gives. “It represents very well sometimes how we are,” he noted. “Football is so political and it’s going in this direction. It’s fiction but you can translate it in many businesses.”
Pochettino’s team made history this summer for all the wrong reasons when they became the first Premier League side to not sign a player in a summer transfer window since it was introduced in 2003. They have built a glorious and very expensive new stadium that was supposed to be ready in September but has been delayed, costing them millions in lost revenue while forcing them to play on NFL-scarred Wembley pitches. All this and Pochettino is supposed to get his team closer to the title while playing beautiful attractive football. The team fights every every year to get into the European Champions League, only to get swiftly knocked out—and despite a last-minute victory yesterday, that seems likely to happen again this year.
No wonder he needs to take his mind off the job with some Netflix—and also perhaps why he keeps being connected with the vacant Real Madrid job.