Saturday 15 December 2018

Mauricio Pochettino hits out at his players and questions their attitude after FA Cup draw at Newport

Mauricio Pochettino had few excuses after his side's 1-1 draw at Newport
Mauricio Pochettino had few excuses after his side's 1-1 draw at Newport

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Mauricio Pochettino blamed his players’ lack of 'motivation, desire and fight' for Tottenham Hotspur’s surprise 1-1 draw at Newport County in the FA Cup on Saturday evening.

Spurs went 1-0 down to the League Two side and needed Harry Kane to equalise eight minutes from team to avoid an embarrassing upset at Rodney Parade. Pochettino was full of praise for Newport afterwards but fiercely critical of his own players.

Despite starting big names like Kane, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama, Spurs struggled to get a foothold in the game in the first half. In a forthright press conference afterwards, Pochettino said that Newport’s players had wanted it more than his own did.

“We cannot use the excuse about the pitch, we need to see ourselves,” Pochettino said. “We were so poor in the first half. We were aware of how Newport play, a very energetic team with some quality. We never matched their level in the first half.”

Pochettino was especially frustrated because he had told his own players this beforehand. “I think the key, and we talked a lot about it, was to match their motivation, desire and fight, to challenge them. We lost every challenge in the first half. It was difficult to play forward, we always played safe. I think the team did not show that they really wanted to go to the next stage of the FA Cup.”

Despite Spurs’ strong team, Pochettino said that cup tie like this was never going to be settled by quality alone. And it was only in the second that his players started to reach the right level. “We were aware that the key to play today, was to have the capacity to challenge them in all areas,” Pochettino said.

“We can talk at the end about tactical, positional games or shape. The most important, from the beginning of the game, was to try to show more desire, or the same desire as them, the same motivation. To challenge, to have a winning mentality. Because it’s not an easy game. I don’t say that we were not motivated, but not motivated in the same level as Newport. In all these aspects, they beat us.”

This was a classic cup tie, in front of 10,000 fans at a ground shared with two rugby teams, and Pochettino said that demanded more from his players. “We missed a massive opportunity today to show that we really want to win some trophies,” Pochettino said.

“I hope that helps us to realise. I hear for five years that the FA Cup is magic because you have a Premier League team and a League Two team. And today, to be honest, I don’t see too much difference.”

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