Neil Humphreys: Look what you lost by letting Pochettino go, Spurs
Pochettino makes Champions League semi-finals with PSG, Mourinho going nowhere at Tottenham
Where there is discord, there is Jose Mourinho. Where there is union, there is Mauricio Pochettino.
Oh, Daniel Levy, what were you thinking?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the Tottenham Hotspur chairman didn't need Nostradamus' night goggles to see where his managerial exchange was headed.
It was always going to end up right here, with Pochettino and Mourinho at opposite ends of the fickle spectrum of coaching fortunes.
When Spurs sacked Pochettino in November 2019 and replaced him with Mourinho, a honeymoon bounce was inevitable and Tottenham's footballers were duty-bound to report the dawning of a new era.
But it was a false dawn. Of course it was. Whether Mourinho was in the autumnal stages of a glittering managerial career missed the point. Pochettino's career was still in its relative infancy.
After his rapid progress at Espanyol, Southampton and Spurs, the Argentinian wasn't headed for the scrap heap, but something more valuable and tangible.
Today, he's off to the Champions League semi-final. Mourinho is creeping towards the Tottenham exit, if the latest headlines are to be believed.
Ironically, Pochettino's fine work at Paris Saint-Germain is lauded beside newspaper stories linking Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo with the Spurs gig, once Mourinho has been summarily dismissed.
Even Mourinho loyalists must struggle to feign shock at this entirely expected turn of events.
It's not so much a case of two clubs as it is a case of two coaching cultures. One favours serenity, the other a siege mentality. The former requires patience and trust. The latter burns brightly, but briefly.
After PSG's disciplined performances during their 3-3 triumph on away goals against Bayern Munich, their jubilant players exuded that serenity. There's no panic in Paris any more.
After the 3-2 first-leg win, the players recalled Pochettino telling them to relax and not worry about Bayern's early dominance. They had the speed to score on the counter-attack. And they did.
In the second leg yesterday morning (Singapore time), Bayern's first-half goal jangled nerves. Pochettino assured his patched-up side of their defensive superiority at half-time. With support from Idrissa Gueye in midfield, the line would hold. It did.
Expectations haven't changed at PSG. Coaches are still hired to win the elusive Champions League. But the panic button is now avoided when a European tie is in the balance.
Under Pochettino, PSG are no longer the haunted souls staggering off the field following soul-crushing defeats to Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern.
Indeed, the worlds of both Pochettino and Mourinho have turned upside down. The Argentinian left an overachieving team of decent players in north London to join an underachieving collection of global superstars and changed his new club's character.
Neymar doesn't play for his agent's next contract any more. His tireless dedication against Bayern was a treat to behold. Constantly probing, he was always seeking out Kylian Mbappe or Angel di Maria.
The artist formerly known as a petulant prince is now an integral member of Team PSG. They all are.
While Mourinho questions his players' attitudes at Tottenham, Pochettino quietly reshapes and motivates a line-up that had lost Marco Verratti, Alessandro Florenzi and influential skipper Marquinhos.
In curious contrast, Tottenham have morphed into the kind of squad that Pochettino inherited at PSG - a couple of attacking stars dominating a side still in need of a clear identity.
Spurs often feel like Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and nine others, largely because Mourinho tells us so at every opportunity.
The Portuguese's recent defence of Son, criticising Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's cheating claims, was a noble attempt to shield an abused player. But the bizarre nature of the outburst only conformed to stereotype.
Mourinho was losing the plot once more, ranting about perceived enemies and persisting with his siege mentality as the walls closed in.
But his motivational powers appear to be waning. Apart from Kane, it's hard to find notable improvements within the Tottenham squad.
At PSG, Mbappe, di Maria, Neymar, Gueye, makeshift centre-back Danilo Pereira and even young fullbacks Colin Dagba and Abdou Diallo are all rising to big occasions, individually and collectively.
Pochettino did something similar at Spurs, establishing an attractive playing style and guiding a mix of experienced and rising talents all the way to the Champions League final.
Spurs lost in 2019, but Pochettino has the squad to go one better this time around with PSG.
Tottenham can only wonder what might have been, but what they cannot do is pretend to be surprised.