Mauricio Pochettino: Andros Townsend's Tottenham exit was nothing personal
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino claims there was nothing personal in his decision to sell Andros Townsend.
Townsend is expected to line up for Crystal Palace against Spurs in their Premier League clash on Saturday and the winger could be forgiven for feeling like he has a point to prove.
Joining Tottenham's academy aged eight, Townsend went on to make 93 appearances for his boyhood club but fell out of favour under Pochettino last term and was sold to Newcastle in January.
The final straw appeared to come in November when Pochettino left Townsend on the bench during a 3-1 win over Aston Villa, despite using all three of his substitutes and bringing on 18-year-old Joshua Onomah.
Townsend took his frustration out on a club fitness coach during the post-match warm down and, after initially being banned from first-team training, never played for Pochettino again.
Now at Palace following Newcastle's relegation to the Championship, Townsend will return to White Hart Lane for the first time since his departure.
"It is not about personal things or issues," Pochettino said.
"We have spent nearly two years together here and had a good relationship. We took a professional decision. I think it is not an issue. We split our ways and nothing happened.
"As a manager, you take a lot of decisions every day. If a player's not happy because they want to play more, then they try and find another place to try and play."
Pochettino insisted the Townsend spat was only a "problem during one week" and that Tottenham's early exit from the Capital One Cup, as well as an ankle injury, limited the player's opportunities.
But, a staunch disciplinarian, the Argentinian also hinted at the need to be ruthless when rules are breached.
"I think the discipline is important," Pochettino said.
"It is important that all players want to be part of the team and play for the team. The discipline and the realisation are very important for success.
"That is very important, to show respect for everyone at the club. That is one of the principle things that for me is very important."
Nabil Bentaleb is another to feel the effects of Pochettino's wrath, with the 21-year-old currently banished to the under-21s while he looks for a new club.
Bentaleb impressed during Pochettino's first year in charge but his frustration at losing his place last season irritated the Spurs head coach and reconciliation now seems out of reach.
"He is training with the under-21s. He is not with the first team because he wanted to leave," Pochettino said.
"If he wanted to leave, he can come and see me, I say, 'okay you can leave', and he is waiting to try to find a place away from Tottenham.
"But there is nothing to do. We share the changing room and the restaurants all together, it is not a problem.
"The rule is very clear: if you are not part of my plans, why are you training with us? He understands very well, like any other player."