Mauricio Pochettino saluted a “complete performance” from his Tottenham Hotspur team in Sunday’s 4-1 home win over West Ham United and said that he believed they had the quality to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
“After the game that we’ve played today, I think that we have quality enough,” Pochettino, the manager, said. “But football is also about mental things and a lot of other components that you have to manage. We are in a process. We can feel proud after this performance.
“You could see how the players believed in the way we play and, when you are in a group and you share the philosophy and believe it is the best in the world, you can be very proud.”
Pochettino watched Harry Kane score twice – the striker has eight goals in his last five Tottenham appearances – but it was the performance of all 11 players that pleased him the most; the way that they pressed as a unit and squeezed the life out of West Ham. The visitors were overrun after Kane’s opening goal midway through the first half and Slaven Bilic, the West Ham manager, admitted his team were fortunate not to lose by more. Adrián, the West Ham goalkeeper, made a handful of fine saves.
“It was a complete performance from the team,” Pochettino said. “Maybe, it was the best of the season but it was certainly one of the best. It’s about philosophy, and how we defend when we don’t have the ball. You can see Harry Kane, and how hard he works to recover the ball. We have a very strong mentality in the team in terms of working to help our team-mates. And, when we have the ball, we always look forward. At 3-0 up, you can manage the game but, in the last 10 minutes, we were always trying to score. This, I like.
“We were fantastic but in football, you have to show it today and tomorrow, in the coming games. We have to show the level that we reached here. We cannot stop. We are happy but we need to improve. Our mentality is step by step.”
West Ham were beginning a long stretch without their star player, Dimitri Payet, who is out for up to three months with an ankle injury, but Bilic refused to blame his absence, or anything else. “No excuses, they were better,” Bilic said. “They were quicker than us, physically stronger, scored goals and grew in confidence. It was 4-1, a massive defeat but we have to admit it could have been more after 3-0. It was a shock.
“We were too deep in some situations and allowed them close to our box without them having to do something too special. We will analyse this game but, on the other hand, we must put it to bed and prepare for West Brom on Sunday. That will be the perfect possibility to hit back.”
Tottenham’s only blot was the yellow card that the 19-year-old England midfielder Dele Alli received after he stepped into an argument between Kane and Mark Noble. Alli went head to head with the West Ham captain and, with five domestic bookings for the season, he will be suspended for Sunday’s home game against Chelsea.
“He has a strong character and he is inside every fight,” Pochettino said. “It was 3-0 when he got this yellow card but he is young. Football is about living experiences and he must be sure that next time he is more relaxed.”
A West Ham fan was taken to hospital in a stable condition before the match after being stabbed outside the ground.