Wednesday 18 July 2018

Pochettino apologises for Rochdale pitch jibe

Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino

Matt Law

Mauricio Pochettino has apologised to Rochdale for claiming their pitch posed a "massive risk" to his players.

Pochettino takes his Spurs team to Spotland to face League One side Rochdale in the fifth round of the FA Cup tomorrow, just five days after the superb Champions League fightback against Juventus.

In response to concerns over their playing surface, Rochdale spent £500,000 (€565,000) on re-laying their pitch and the move has satisfied Pochettino, who is planning to start central defender Toby Alderweireld on it.

Alderweireld was left out of the trip to Italy for fitness reasons, although it is understood talks over a new contract for the Belgian have stalled.

The Spurs manager will make a late call on striker Harry Kane, who twisted his ankle against Juventus, and the Argentine said: "I want to apologise to the people in Rochdale, the chairman, and the people who took my comment the wrong way.

"My comment was about the care, first of all for the Rochdale players, our players, and the competition that all of England watches on TV.

"After the replay against Newport, I was with my coaching staff and they showed me a picture from Rochdale's pitch after their tie against Millwall and it was not in a great condition.

"I was conscious about the FA Cup, the football, and the image that we are going to sell, but the care for the players, too.

"Now, when I see the pictures and videos of the pitch on the Rochdale website, I need to congratulate them because the effort was massive to get it in the best condition to play without risk.

"Again, I apologise if someone took my words in the wrong way."

Following league victories against Manchester United and Arsenal, and their 2-2 Champions League draw in Turin, Spurs will be expected to comfortably seal their progression to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

However, Pochettino warned: "What is important is to forget about what happened in Turin or against Arsenal.

"We don't have time to enjoy that we won the derby, or our draw in Turin and how we played in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

"This is a different game and a different competition, and it will be tough. For me it will be a tougher game than Juventus or Arsenal because it is a challenge to be motivated in a competition that we want to go far in, but you have to perform at your best if you want to win."

Tottenham are willing to hand Pochettino a new contract, with Real Madrid yet to decide on a preferred candidate to replace Zinedine Zidane if the Frenchman is sacked. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Rochdale v Tottenham, Live BBC1, tomorrow 4.0

Irish Independent

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