Monday 23 September 2019

Pochettino reveals stadium delays are 'painful' for chairman Levy

Pochettino: Disappointed. Photo: PA
Pochettino: Disappointed. Photo: PA

Sam Dean

Mauricio Pochettino has revealed Tottenham Hotspur's "pain" at being unable to provide their fans with Champions League football at their new stadium this year as they prepare for tonight's must-win clash with PSV Eindhoven.

Spurs will be knocked out of the tournament if they fail to beat PSV at Wembley and Inter Milan defeat Barcelona. An exit at the group stage would mean that Champions League football will not be seen at the new Spurs stadium this season, despite an advertising campaign in the summer which boasted that the new arena would be the only place in London to watch Europe's premier competition.

The delay to the construction of the new stadium is just one of a series of problems for Pochettino, who said his frustration has been eased by watching the political drama 'House of Cards', and joked there were similarities between the show's fictional power struggles and life as a football manager.

Among Pochettino's concerns are the suspension of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, injuries to a series of midfielders and the poor state of the Wembley pitch.

The playing surface is in better condition than it was for last week's Premier League defeat by Manchester City, but NFL markings are still visible following the previous Sunday's match between Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles.

"We are all disappointed we are not playing Champions League in the new stadium," said Pochettino. "It was not in our hands to deliver it. It was complicated because of many things we could not manage. When you build a house or an extension it is always difficult to say when it will be finished.

"We had problems and it has been delayed, delayed, delayed. We feel sorry and painful for our fans, but for us too. Every day that goes on it is more expensive for the club, but the person who is most worried and feels most sorry for not delivering on time is the chairman (Daniel Levy). It is very painful for him.

"All we can do is help by winning games. If we can win against PSV and have the possibility of going to the next stage then maybe we can play in March and in the Champions League (at the new stadium)."

Pochettino will be without Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama for PSV's visit.

Asked about the club's various difficulties, which include the driving ban for captain Lloris and the failure of the club to make any summer signings, Pochettino said: "Yes, it is a weird season. But I am so happy because I have started the new season of 'House of Cards'. It's similar (to football management), eh?

"It represents very well sometimes how we are. I learn a lot from this series. Sometimes football is so political and it is going in this direction. It is fiction, but you can translate it in many businesses."

Pochettino will hope that midfielder Dele Alli is fit enough to play the whole game. Alli made his return from a hamstring injury last week but was not selected for this weekend's victory over Wolves.

Tottenham v PSV, live, RTE2, 8.0

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