Thursday 14 December 2017

Pochettino won't lose any sleep over final team selection

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino may leave it until tomorrow morning to name his team for the Capital One Cup final
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino may leave it until tomorrow morning to name his team for the Capital One Cup final

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Mauricio Pochettino displayed his ruthless side when he shrugged off concerns about players left out for tomorrow's Capital One Cup final as "not a big issue".

While the Tottenham manager understands how desperate every member of his squad will be to face Chelsea at Wembley, he said there would be no special measures to break the bad news to the players he does not select.

Beneath Pochettino's surface amiability he is a steely winner and he insisted that he was the boss and the team comes first.

"Every time you pick the starting 11 or the squad of 18 it is always difficult to communicate to the players who are not in the squad," said Pochettino. "But this is football, this is our job and the players need to understand my decision."

Pochettino may leave it until tomorrow morning to name his team and, when asked how he would maintain the engagement of those he did not pick, he said it was not one of his main concerns.

"I think it is not a big issue that, it's football," Pochettino said. "The players know that only 18 players can be in the squad and only 11 can start. It's not a different rule for the final. The players, like on the first day, need to understand that I am the boss. I decide the squad. I decide the starting XI and I decide who plays. No change.

"It is true that it is a final and an important game but the players need to accept my decision, like in the past."

As Pochettino likes to explain, players have no entitlement to play matches. They have to work hard and then the manager chooses his strongest team.

"When you are in football and you are a player," he said, "when you sign the contract it is for training, to give your best in training - and after that you have to wait for the decision of the manager. This is my job."

Pochettino has his own experience of this issue and cannot be accused of hypocrisy. When Espanyol faced Real Zaragoza in the 2006 Copa del Rey final, coach Miguel Angel Lotina left a 34-year-old Pochettino on the bench, and did not bring him on.

Espanyol won 4-1, though, and Pochettino said he understood the decision. "Always I had full respect for the decision from my manager," he said. "If I don't play, another team-mate plays."

The biggest decision that Pochettino has to make is in goal. He has rotated between Michel Vorm and Hugo Lloris all season, but Vorm has played in the Capital One Cup and the fact that Lloris was in goal against Fiorentina on Thursday has been taken as an indication that Vorm is likely to play tomorrow.

Pochettino, as ever, was unwilling to go into specifics but he said he does not see this game as especially different from the 44 games Spurs have already played this season.

"Every game I take a decision and Sunday is another decision that I need to make," he said. "In each game and every game I analyse, take a decision and analyse which is the best side to pick. Why should Sunday be different from the past?" (© Independent News Service)

Chelsea v Tottenham, live, Sky Sports 1, 4.00pm tomorrow

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