Saturday 21 April 2018

No extra pressure after Dortmund rout - Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

John Percy

Mauricio Pochettino insists there is no extra pressure on Tottenham Hotspur to revive their Premier League title push after their battering at Borussia Dortmund.

Pochettino is backing his players to recover from a chastening evening against the German heavyweights and finish the season with a flourish as they prepare to face Aston Villa tomorrow.

The Spurs manager has come under scrutiny for making seven changes for the Europa League tie against Dortmund, in a surprise move which showed he is prioritising the domestic title.

Spurs were humiliated 3-0 and are surely out of the competition, barring a remarkable turnaround in the second leg on Thursday.

Pochettino is expected to restore leading scorer Harry Kane, Mousa Dembele, Kyle Walker and Erik Lamela to his starting line-up at Villa Park, while Dele Alli will return from suspension.

With Villa having won only three times in the league this season, it has raised questions over whether Pochettino got his team selection the wrong way round. But he has urged Spurs to show the strugglers respect.

"We need to be positive for the end of the season and finish strongly, if not maybe we have a problem," he said. "There are no regrets about anything, it's only that we need to know that to compete in the Champions League in the future, you need to improve.

"Villa is also a test for us and I think we are wrong if we don't show them respect."

Spurs are pursuing their first league title since 1961, and could cut Leicester City's lead at the top to two points with a win at Villa Park.

Pochettino's achievements this season have raised expectations with supporters yet he insists his emerging squad are still far from the finished article.

"We are in a process that is only at the beginning. It's true that we show that we are ready to compete, but to compete for the next level maybe we need some more time," he said. "During the last eight or nine months we've played the same way, on Thursday because it was a bad night for us we cannot put in the bin all that happened before."

Hugo Lloris, the Spurs goalkeeper, said: "After a game like Dortmund you feel very far from the top teams in Europe. But I'm not worried about the weekend, I know we're going to bounce back." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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