Pochettino expects Spurs to talk the talk this season
It was one of the conditions of his appointment as Tottenham Hotspur manager and Mauricio Pochettino followed it to the letter last night by finally declaring himself ready to speak English in public.
After a year and a half hiding behind a translator at Southampton, the Argentinian vowed to address Spurs fans in their native tongue, despite claiming he was still struggling to master the language.
The 42-year-old's decision to speak English only in private at St Mary's sparked controversy and Tottenham were adamant that would no longer be the case upon recruiting him in May.
Pochettino demonstrated yesterday that he was more than happy to comply, having little difficulty getting his message across in his first serious encounter with the British media since joining his new club.
"Now, it's good, my communication," he said, while maintaining he "never had a problem" conversing with his English players at Southampton.
Admitting he was still "nervous" about speaking his second language in public, he said he had no regrets about waiting until now to unveil his English skills to the world.
He will retain the services of a translator at Spurs – yesterday it was assistant head coach Jesus Perez – if only to ensure he fully understands all questions asked. The main one on everyone's lips at a club now on their 13th permanent manager during the Premier League era is what targets he has been set by trigger-happy chairman Daniel Levy – targets far harder to achieve than speaking English.
"At the moment, there are a lot of targets," Pochettino said. "To develop a balanced squad, to put our philosophy into practice and, on top of all that, we need the results to keep the belief high."
Yet, qualifying for the Champions League has not been demanded of the new man in charge, who nevertheless set himself the impossible challenge of winning every game. More realistic will be getting the best out of a squad who badly underachieved last season after Gareth Bale's world-record £86m move to Real Madrid.
Their failure was exemplified by record signing Erik Lamela, who was in danger of going down as one of the biggest flops in Premier League history but has shown glimpses in pre-season of what prompted Tottenham to pay Roma £30m for him almost a year ago.
Insisting "my challenge is not only Erik Lamela", Pochettino was expecting a dramatic improvement from his fellow Argentinian this term. He said: "We think and believe that Erik is ready to show his quality. For me, it is about exciting football, pressing high, playing with flair – this is our philosophy that we want to get down." (© Daily Telegraph, London)