Tuesday 20 November 2018

Pochettino calls for more of the same for Spurs' clash with PSV

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: PA
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: PA

Jim White

As Tottenham prepare to play PSV Eindhoven in a crucial Champions League tie on Wednesday, their manager, Mauricio Pochettino, knows what he wants: more of the sort of display his team gave against West Ham in their 1-0 victory.

"If we want to be alive in the competition, it's a must-win game," he said. "And we know very well we need to repeat that type of performance."

This was Tottenham at their most resolute. Against a West Ham who threw all but the London Stadium's kitchen sink at them in the second half, Pochettino's team were disciplined, careful, without hint of ostentation. In short, the very opposite of "Spursy".

It was just the sort of showing they will require if their new stadium is to see Champions League football when it opens after Christmas.

After two defeats in their opening European fixtures, this augured well. Not least in the fact that it was a result achieved without Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli.

Instead, Harry Winks, Mousa Sissoko and, particularly, Erik Lamela stepped into the fray. The Argentinian was in particularly eye-catching form, scoring the game's only goal with a header.

"If you do not believe in the players in the squad and then you need them to play, it is difficult to ask them to perform," said Pochettino of his stand-ins.

For his counterpart, Manuel Pellegrini, the issues are different.

Reputation

Never mind stand-ins - he could do with his statement-signing of the summer not playing like a drain. Felipe Anderson has had a reputation for blowing hot and cold. Here, he was an icy gale of incompetence, embarrassed by Sissoko in the build-up to the Spurs goal, booed by a proportion of his own supporters when substituted.

"I prefer not to talk about individual players," Pellegrini said. "I prefer to talk about the performance. Teams always have players who played better or bad."

Tottenham had players who played better. From Hugo Lloris, to Winks and Harry Kane, Pochettino was blessed by his team's commitment.

"That is part of the growth, for the team to get more mature. [If] we are not capable of winning this type of game, [then] we cannot win the title. We need more.

"I think we are so competitive over the last four-and-a-half years, but to win a title is the last step. All the must-win games we play in the past were against big teams ready to win titles, and our performance wasn't enough."

Though he added that being even close to adding the final touch was progress indeed.

Telegraph.co.uk

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