Wednesday 21 February 2018

Pochettino: I will know in 50 seconds if we're up for fight

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Retuers
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Retuers

Matt Law

Mauricio Pochettino has claimed it will take him just 50 seconds to know whether or not Tottenham Hotspur will stage a Europa League fightback at Wembley tonight.

The stadium is sold out for the game against Gent, who lead Spurs by a single goal after last week's first leg in Belgium.

Pochettino held a team meeting following that 1-0 defeat - in which his side never recovered from a slow start - to stress the need to get on the front foot quickly and Spurs responded with a much more dynamic display in the FA Cup victory over Fulham last weekend.

Asked how long it takes him to assess whether his team are on their 'A' game, Pochettino replied: "If you only watch 50 seconds, you don't have to be a genius to know if there needs to be a change and to know we may struggle and will have some problems. In that moment, it's too difficult to change. We changed the formation (against Gent) at half-time to try and lift them, but it was impossible.

"The problem is when you start not in a good way, it's too difficult to change that perception and then you give a very good signal to the opponent that you are not focused on the game."

Having been widely praised for the way in which his young team fought for the Premier League title last season, Pochettino is now having to get used to facing regular questions over when they will win their first trophy. He has stressed that Spurs need to be patient in their bid to end the club's nine-year silverware drought and that they will have to wait until they move into their new stadium to compete on an equal footing with rivals.

"We cannot buy time, that is the most important thing for us," said Pochettino. "We are in that process to try to build a very good squad to try to fight to win titles."

Harry Kane is one of a number of Tottenham players still waiting to earn their first winner's medal, but the 23-year-old striker echoed his manager's theory that it is too early to judge success by trophies.

Kane also dismissed any fears Tottenham could freeze in front of a sold-out Wembley against Gent, adding: "Having 90,000 there is incredible. I think it's a full house again, so, hopefully, we can use it to our advantage." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Tottenham v Gent

Live, BT Sport 2, 8.05

Irish Independent

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