Monday 14 October 2019

Mauricio Pochettino calls on Premier League to address ‘massive disadvantage’ English sides face in Europe

Decision day beckons for Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Decision day beckons for Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Jonathan Veal

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has called on the Football Association and Premier League to help English clubs be stronger in the Champions League.

Pochettino is furious that his side have had less time to prepare for both legs of their Champions League last-16 tie than their opponents Borussia Dortmund.

Spurs played Leicester on the Sunday before the Wednesday of their first leg, with Dortmund playing 24 hours earlier. And ahead of this Tuesday's second leg in Germany the Bundesliga leaders were in action on Friday while Pochettino's men took on Arsenal in the north London derby on Saturday lunchtime.

That reduced preparation time for the first leg did not hamper Spurs too much, though, as they won 3-0 at Wembley, putting them in pole position for just a second quarter-final appearance in the Champions League.

Pochettino believes English sides should be better looked after with regards to domestic fixtures in the build up to big European evenings and pointed to Ligue 1 side Rennes, whose weekend game was called off in order to give them more time to prepare for a Europa League clash with Arsenal.

"I think we need help from the FA, we need help from the Premier League, I don't know because I am not involved in the decisions," the Argentinian said.

"I don't know whether to blame the FA or to blame the Premier League or to blame Tottenham because we changed the day because we've still not delivered our new stadium or the TV because they wanted us to play live on Saturday.

"Look what happened with Rennes in the Europa League. They cancelled their game at the weekend to help Rennes to play against Arsenal.

"In Europe, the FAs are more sensitive to help the club to compete in the best way in Europe.

"I would like to play in the same situation as your opponent. That is the most important, you have the same days to prepare for the game.

"I think that is not fair and it is a problem that in the future it is a thing we need to change if we want to help the English clubs be stronger in the competition.

"We need to be more sensitive to the clubs who play in Europe to provide better condition to have the same possibility to arrive to the games."

Pochettino lists scheduling problems as one of a number of issues that have hampered his side this season, including ongoing delays to their stadium, a crippling injury list and no signings for over a year.

For Spurs to be on the cusp of a Champions League quarter-final and, until recently, in the Premier League title race, means their players are heroes, according to Pochettino.

"Because we have warriors and players who are heroes in the way they fight, only we are here because of that," he said.

"Our mentality is a Champions League mentality. It's a World Cup winners' mentality."

Pochettino will not allow the first leg, when his side blew Dortmund away in the second half, to come into the thinking ahead of the return match.

Spurs have a 3-0 first-leg lead in a European tie for the first time since 2013 when they ended up needing an extra-time goal from Emmanuel Adebayor to scrape through the second leg against Inter Milan.

The Argentinian is demanding that his side go on the front foot against Lucien Favre's side.

"We need to play like always we play, trying to win, that is important," he said.

"We need to forget the first leg, it's important to be aggressive, fight from the beginning, high tempo, that is going to be the key.

"We know Borussia Dortmund is a great team, top of the Bundesliga because they deserve to be there.

"It's going to be tough. They will start game aggressive and try to push us deeper.

"We need to show the same aggressiveness, play our way. Winning 3-0 at Wembley is not important tomorrow."

Spurs will be without Dele Alli (hamstring) and Kieran Tripper, with both staying in London.

Harry Winks (hip) and Eric Dier (tonsillitis) have travelled but might only be fit for the bench.

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