Monday 19 August 2019

Pochettino fuels Tottenham exit fears after warning of 'crash'

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Sam Wallace

Mauricio Pochettino again suggested that his future could lie away from Tottenham Hotspur following next month's Champions League final, with his most outspoken demand yet that the club come up with a plan to compete with the elite for the next five years.

The Spurs manager, speaking for the first time since returning from their semi-final triumph over Ajax, said that anyone who believed his team could compete with the Premier League's strongest clubs operating the same way Spurs had for the past five years was "very naive".

He said that the final in Madrid on June 1 would "close a chapter" and that chairman Daniel Levy would dictate how Spurs went into a new era having, in the same season, reached their first Champions League final and moved into a new stadium.

Asked whether he could walk away after the final against Liverpool, perhaps even for a sabbatical, Pochettino (above) said he was "open for anything". "What I am not open to is starting a new chapter with no clear idea, with not being transparent," he said.

Pochettino said it was not just a question of investment or retaining players and buying others, but being clear about what the club wanted to achieve.

He said: "If we believe that if we operate in the same way we have in the last five years we are going to be in the Champions League final every season, and we are going to be every season in the top four and competing against Liverpool or Manchester City or Manchester United, I think we are very naive."

There was also the warning that the euphoria of the final that awaits after the last league game of the season at home to Everton tomorrow could soon disappear.

"Of course, we are all excited now and it's difficult to see the future, but the future arrives quickly," Pochettino said. "And if you don't start to work, and if you do not make a plan; if you don't anticipate things, when you crash, you crash."

The 47-year-old embarked on a similar speech at the end of last season, demanding that the club "needs to be brave and take risks". Eleven days later he signed a five-year contract, yet in the two transfer windows since, Spurs have not signed a single player.

Pochettino was of interest to Manchester United until they appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. While that option, as well as Real Madrid, is closed for now, going on a sabbatical is a possibility.

The Argentine said he had ambitions to win a trophy, but that what had been achieved, taking Spurs to what could be four top-three finishes, was greater than that.

"Winning trophies is one of my objectives, but for me it is winning trophies and to create a special project," he said. "We have an amazing history, but I think we need to create the most exciting [part of that] history.

"When you assess how we arrived here [at the Champions League final] it is more than winning a title, it is more than winning five or 10 titles for a team like Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Juventus. Maybe it happens [only] once in the history [of Spurs]."

He added: "I need to know what we need to achieve or for what we are going to fight and then who is going to assess the tools we have to achieve what we plan to achieve."

Jan Vertonghen is out of tomorrow's game with an ankle injury, but could be fit for June 1. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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