Sunday 26 May 2019

Pochettino calls on club to be 'brave' after finishing season on a high

Tottenham 5 Leicester 4

Harry Kane: 30 goals. Photo: Getty Images
Harry Kane: 30 goals. Photo: Getty Images

Sam Wallace

Mauricio Pochettino had just seen his team engage in some glorious end of season nonsense over the course of nine goals in their last home game at Wembley when the Tottenham manager decided that it was time to deliver some home truths to his club.

The Argentinian coach has achieved three consecutive top three finishes for Spurs, and Champions League football in their new stadium, but his mind was already racing on to the challenge of doing it again next season.

Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko in action with Leicester's Adrien Silva. Photo: Reuters
Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko in action with Leicester's Adrien Silva. Photo: Reuters

His appeal was designed to carry direct to chairman Daniel Levy that the club "needs to be brave and take risks" if they are to compete.

It sounded very much like Pochettino feared that without investment in players Spurs would struggle to compete with the two Manchester clubs that have finished above his, as well as all those trying to make up the ground.

Pochettino urged the club to "tell the truth" to fans about what is possible given the investment in a £780 million stadium and to "create dreams that are possible to achieve".

"We cannot think we are the cleverest people in the world winning trophies on small money," he said.

Former Tottenham player Paul Gascoigne makes an appearance at high time. Photo: PA
Former Tottenham player Paul Gascoigne makes an appearance at high time. Photo: PA

"We need to think the reality is different. We cannot invest crazy money. We need to feel we are a special club. When you create that feeling anything can happen in football. We need to deliver the best way to try and win.

"I think Daniel is going to listen. You need to be brave and take risks. It is the moment the club need to take risks. We need to work harder than the previous season.

"Today the Premier League is a tough competition, you can see not only the big clubs, but the clubs behind us. West Ham, Leicester, Everton are working so hard to be close to the top six clubs."

Asked about his own future, Pochettino was not prepared to commit himself unequivocally to being at Spurs next season, and offered up the usual caveats about a manager being a few results from the sack.

Tottenham's Harry Kane in action with Leicester's Wes Morgan. Photo: Reuters
Tottenham's Harry Kane in action with Leicester's Wes Morgan. Photo: Reuters

But he was unquestionably laying out his own position in public as Spurs enter a period of uncertainty in which opportunities may yet open up for their talented manager.

"You never know," Pochettino said. "Today, 100pc, I feel like I'm here, but tomorrow all can change. It is not in my hands. It is not my decision, it depends on my boss."

Thus far, he said it has been "difficult" to speak to Levy about next season, but he appeared to anticipate those discussions would begin soon.

It was a strange end to a day which had seen Paul Gascoigne dancing in the stands and Harry Kane finishing with more league goals in a single season than before, but losing out on the Golden Boot.

Leicester's Riyad Mahrez
Leicester's Riyad Mahrez

The England striker curled in a right-footed shot for the winner, but elsewhere Mo Salah was adding to his total. The Liverpool man finished with 32 while Kane's brace took him to 30, better than his previous two seasons of 25 and 29 goals, respectively, which were both enough to win him the Golden Boot.

Pochettino and his players were warmly received by the fans at the end, although the booing at half-time, when they trailed 2-1, was a reminder that expectations at this club have climbed.

Jamie Vardy also caught the eye with two goals to take his season's total to 20 and fourth place in the Golden Boot.

Claude Puel was also obliged to answer questions about his own future, pointing out that Leicester's ninth-place finish was only the second top-half place for the club in 18 years.

"You need experience, stability to improve this club," he said. "It is an honest squad. We need stability and I will try and make this work. Speculation is not my area."

Vardy flicked a header perfectly beyond the glove of Hugo Lloris for the first on three minutes. Spurs' equaliser came when Danny Simpson's pass was struck straight at Lucas Moura and the rebound fell nicely into Kane's stride to beat Eldin Jakupovic at his near post.

Leicester were back in the lead in the 16th minute when Kelechi Iheanacho muscled his way into the box and from Adrien Silva it deflected off Kyle Walker-Peters for Riyad Mahrez to score.

They went 3-1 ahead through Iheanacho after half-time, the striker easily holding off Victor Wanyama to hit a shot past Lloris.

Spurs scored three in 11 minutes in response: Erik Lamela from the cross of Walker-Peters, Christian Fuchs' deflected own goal and then another Walker-Peters cross for Lamela. Vardy's equaliser, running off Wanyama to slam home Mahrez's pass was superb, but then Kane had the last word.

© The Daily Telegraph

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport