Following victory against Chelsea, Pep Guardiola had belittled Tottenham by calling them “the Harry Kane” team.
After spending the international break in Spain, this was the first public opportunity Pochettino had in front of the cameras. He wanted the question to be asked.
Sure enough, after some brief pre-amble about team news and the Ballon d’Or, the gate was opened just over six minutes in.
“Kane has obviously been key to your success this season; Pep Guardiola described you as ‘the Harry Kane team’ when he listed his potential title rivals. What did you make of that?”
There was a brief nervous laugh and an initial “it was funny”. What happened next showed that undoubtedly he meant “funny peculiar”, not “funny ha-ha”.
By the end of the press conference, Pochettino would have left Guardiola in tatters. “It’s a sad comment,” he had concluded by the end. “He’s a great manager, one of the best managers in the world, so why make that comment? It doesn’t help him. It’s not a good thing for anyone.”
But at this early stage, he was just getting going.
“I know Pep very well,” Pochettino went on to explain, “especially when he is excited after an amazing victory against Chelsea.
“Sometimes, he struggles to keep his position and be a gentleman. I take that situation – it didn’t affect me but in reality, it was very disrespectful for many people.
It’s difficult to understand because Pep was part of the big success at Barcelona when it was Messi at his best – and I never said it was “the Messi team”. I always said it was Barcelona, it was Pep Guardiola, and I think everyone deserves to be recognised as being part of the success of the team.
“I think that many people took those words as [being] very sad and disrespectful to the club. And for many players that are here … it’s a strange situation [for them].
“In my case, personally, I didn’t take it in a bad way. It wasn’t disrespectful to me. Only I express my feeling that for a lot of people it was unnecessary to say that [about]. But I think we need to move on.
“For me Harry Kane is one of the best strikers. It doesn’t change anything for me. And I think it’s important that our position is [to] be clear, be calm, not be aggressive with our opponent.
“Our responsibility is massive. But I think it’s important to respect every single opinion and I respect his opinion.”
Clearly Pochettino was not of the impression that his was a one-man team.
“I think everyone knows how Tottenham is, everyone knows how Manchester United is, how was Barcelona, how was Argentina,”
“Pochettino continued. “It’s a collective sport. Everyone needs to do his job. And always it’s collective. Of course, sometimes it’s difficult because the media and [there is] the temptation to recognise and to be focused on some people, or some players.
“So of course, you can remember in the history, where it was Kempes in 1978, in 1986 it was the Maradona team, the dream team of Johan Cryuff.
“One of the best teams in the world – the Messi team [at Barcelona].
“And of course, Harry Kane is a very important part of the success today of Tottenham but still we don’t win a trophy. We need to win a trophy to say it was a massive period for us. “
There were two further attempts to come back onto the subject while the cameras were rolling. Pochettino was not buying into the suggestion that the comments would do his team-talk for him, but the real hurt behind the rant was revealed when he was asked if Guardiola had made any attempt to contact the Argentine during the break.
“No. He didn’t call me… yet. Maybe after the press conference he will call me. I am sure that he will be glad to. Of course I would be happy to talk to him.”
The Manchester City press conference was just getting started as Pochettino finished off his own media duties.
Perhaps that call will come later.