Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino defends record after ‘egos’ comments

• Manager says Spurs can compete with Real Madrid in future
• ‘It’s about improving every season,’ says Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has sought to clarify his claim after Tottenham’s FA Cup defeat by Crystal Palace that winning trophies only “builds egos” with an impassioned defence of his record that included the insistence Spurs can one day expect to compete with Real Madrid.

Pochettino raised eyebrows with his comments following the 2-0 loss at Selhurst Park on Sunday, when Tottenham gave up a second opportunity to win a domestic trophy inside four days having also lost to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. “We are going to create a debate that to win a trophy is going to help the club, I don’t agree with that,” he said before making his curious remark regarding egos.

Speaking before Wednesday’s Premier League match against Watford, Pochettino appreciated his words may have caused confusion, as well as frustration, among Spurs supporters but he remained steadfast behind his overall message: that long-term improvement is more important than one-off cup success.

The Argentinian spoke with passion and in great detail, with his initial answer of the afternoon lasting a startling six minutes and 50 seconds.

“First of all I don’t know if our fans were happy or unhappy [about the ego comment] because I don’t follow social media. But it’s important to clarify,” he said. “The principal thing our fans need to know: when you ask me if I agree winning a domestic cup will help us to achieve the last level, I cannot agree. I only wanted to translate [on Sunday] that we are doing fantastic things.

“If you ask me if I want to win, of course I want to win and build my CV. In the last four or five years we played in four semi-finals, one final – we try, we were close and in the last three seasons we are consistently playing Champions League. If you say to me: ‘How we can help the club to be in the last level?’ It’s about improving every season. We are so close, we need to try to keep working. The fans that are not happy, of course with perspective in the future they are going to appreciate the job everyone is doing at this football club.”

Tottenham have finished fifth, third, second and third in Pochettino’s four seasons and, as he outlined, have gone deep in both domestic cup competitions as well as become consistent competitors in the Champions League, with a last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund next month as they continue to fight strongly for another top-four finish. Spurs are third going into the visit of Watford, when Son Heung-min is scheduled to bolster an injury-hit squad following his return from the Asian Cup.

Pochettino is not only proud of his achievements – particularly in light of the club’s modest transfer activity – but also positive about what Spurs can achieve should all concerned remain patient and focused on the “bigger picture”, namely the new stadium. The 46-year-old, who continues to be linked the manager’s job at Manchester United, believes Tottenham’s long-awaited move to the 62,000-seat venue will herald a new chapter in their history.

“If you want to be one of the best teams in the world, you have to have the best facilities,” he said. “For Tottenham to one day be at the same level of Real Madrid that is the most important thing; the bigger picture, that we are going to have one of the best stadiums in the world.”

Asked whether he could envisage Tottenham eventually being on the same level as Real, Pochettino said: “I believe Tottenham is going to have the infrastructure to one day be at the same level. It’s all about believing.”

Pochettino also called on the fans to “help” the players. “You can see for our fans at Wembley every week that things are going down and down and down because people are disappointed with the situation. My job is to call to the fans to give the last push that we need.”


Sachin Nakrani

The GuardianTramp

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