Win or lose in Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final, I suspect this might be the last time we see Mauricio Pochettino in charge of Tottenham Hotspur.
The Argentine has worked miracles in his five years in north London, and look at what he has had to overcome this season. No money, no signings, no stadium, and a huge World Cup contingent worn-out before the season even began.
Even in the Champions League, they really should not have escaped out of their group, and were on the brink against both Manchester City and Ajax.
Chairman Daniel Levy and owner Joe Lewis have helped put the club in a position where now, suddenly, they are sitting above Arsenal, to the utter delight of their fans.
But Pochettino is the one who has made it come to fruition.
I remember mingling with a few Spurs players when they were here in Australia for the International Champions Cup and you could just see the way he connected with his players; there was harmony and trust. His legacy runs deep through the club, beyond the first team players.
Given what he has achieved, Pochettino can rightfully command any job on the planet, and I sense he’s got a burning desire to test himself.
That’s why this final, the biggest club game of football on the planet, is such a monumental milestone.
But coming into the match, Champions League miracles aside, Tottenham’s form has been quite lacklustre.
I actually think Tottenham may have preferred not to have played a club they are so familiar with – and they know Liverpool are in frightening form, despite just being pipped by Manchester City in that incredible Premier League title race.
Liverpool’s Premier League loss could impact them in one of two ways: either they’ll be even hungrier, or they’ll be too damaged and buckle under the weight of the pressure. I suspect it will be the former, but we won’t know for the first 10 or 20 minutes what kind of mood they’ll be in.
And that will be incredibly interesting.
I truly hope Pochettino doesn’t try a defensive, cautious approach. I want to see him dare to match Liverpool, who attack with wave after wave and no doubt will be typically relentless.
The key battle to all that, in my opinion, will be the battle of the fullbacks – or wingbacks, depending which formation Pochettino picks. Both midfields are even on skill, but Liverpool probably win the other match-ups, pound for pound, across the park.
For me, the game will be won and lost out wide.
Can Spurs, with a back three, try keep Liverpool’s phenomenal assist-machines at fullback – Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson – pegged back? That would give Spurs a numerical advantage in midfield.
The fullback battle is a bit of a game of cat and mouse – do you leave your runners and try get them on the counter attack? Who is going to have the bigger balls to throw numbers forward?
You know Liverpool will. Jurgen Klopp simply doesn’t know any other way.
It is why the start to this game will be absolutely unpredictable.
Spurs cannot start slowly as they did in Amsterdam; and there’s no guarantee the physical tactics that got them back into that tie will work either.
Fernando Llorente is not going to frighten Virgil van Dijk. In fact I was surprised with the way Ajax crumbled under the Spaniard’s pressure. Liverpool will certainly not be intimidated, especially with either Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, or James Milner sweeping up all the second balls.
For Klopp to make it back to the final, especially the way he did against Barcelona, is quite incredible. There are always people saying these managers need to prove themselves by winning a trophy – but not this time. Where they have brought these two clubs is a testament to both managers.
It is so tight; I’m calling it will go all the way to penalties. But when all is said and done, I’m envisioning Hugo Lloris lifting the trophy up in Madrid in the early hours of Sunday 2 June on Optus Sport.
Michael Bridges will join Richard Bayliss on the Optus Sport couch from 4am AEST this Sunday for live and exclusive coverage of Tottenham v Liverpool, alongside Thomas Sorensen and Craig Moore.
As told to Ash Obel...