Mauricio Pochettino silences the doubters with Madrid result
Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that some people close to Tottenham Hotspur questioned his team selection for the Champions League tie away to Real Madrid – saying “what the ‘eff’” – only to tell him he was a “genius” after the 1-1 draw against the European champions.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League fixture at home to Liverpool, for which the Argentinian said he could again change the shape of his line-up, Pochettino said it was a lesson not to doubt him and to “trust” in what he is doing.
“It was amazing because some people very close to us said, ‘Can we be honest with you?’” Pochettino explained. “I said, ‘Yes’. They said ‘When we saw the starting XI... what the ‘eff’? What happened? What is going on in his mind?’
“And then 10 minutes after the end of the game, they say, ‘Oh, you are a genius’. I say, ‘OK, thank you’.
“It’s too difficult to explain what we want in every single game to try to find. It’s not easy to explain to you or to relate to the fans. It’s about trust.
“It’s about the feeling that the manager and the coaching staff, when deciding the starting XI or the way to play, is always to try to win.”
Pochettino made light of the absence of Victor Wanyama, Ben Davies, Mousa Dembele and the suspended Dele Alli against Real and played two strikers, with Fernando Llorente alongside Harry Kane in a 3-5-2 formation.
The coach said its success was another sign of how his squad is developing.
“I hear Tottenham don’t have a Plan B or C,” he said. “But the most important thing is to have a plan and keep the philosophy and identity of the team.
“We need to provide the team with different options to play. It is a risk to only play one way so I am proud our players believe and accept we can play in different ways.”
The Real game began a crucial run of fixtures for Spurs. They face Liverpool, then a derby against West Ham in the League Cup and Manchester United away in the league before the return Champions League tie at home to Real, with Pochettino remarking that the performance in Spain was the kind to have “repercussions”.
They certainly need to build on that momentum against Liverpool although Pochettino was dismissive of a record that has not seen him defeat Jurgen Klopp – three draws, two defeats in all competitions – since the German took over at Anfield.
Going further back, Spurs have not defeated Liverpool in the league in nine attempts.
With Dembele having suffered a fresh injury – a sore hip that is hampering his training – and despite Harry Winks’ impressive return to the team, Pochettino hinted that Spurs may need to strengthen in the January window, with a clear expectation that they will again try to sign Everton’s Ross Barkley.
It is understand that Pochettino regards the Everton player as a central midfielder.
“Maybe we need more players with capacity to play there (central midfield),” he said. “It’s important with Victor and Moussa (Sissoko) to recover them because we have a lot of games and we need to manage the players because they are involved with the national team.
“We need options to rotate and to keep our level is important.”
Furthermore Pochettino said he was “concerned” about the extent of Wanyama’s knee injury and revealed that the midfielder will see a specialist next week.
“We have no clear idea what is going on,” he admitted. (© Daily Telegraph, London)