Pochettino: We must put pressure on our top players but it's tough to find challengers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kane, Eriksen and Alli - Tottenham's main men
Kane, Eriksen and Alli – Tottenham’s main men

Mauricio Pochettino says it is important that Tottenham continue to put pressure on their top players and ensure they do not get too comfortable – but he admits it is difficult to find recruits who are able and willing to compete with Spurs’ biggest stars.

While the Lilywhites are yet to sign any players this summer, their manager is fully aware of the need to improve his squad and increase the strength in depth.

“Every season we need to be clever in how we bring more energy and make sure our main players are not in a comfortable situation – because if not it is normal in human beings [to relax],” he said.

READ MORE: Tottenham guide to the 2017-18 Premier League season

READ MORE: Pochettino insists City’s transfer dealings gives them an advantage

“To create a winning team and try to win trophies, you need to feel the pressure. If I’m Harry Kane, like Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen, if there’s no competition in behind then it’s normal to drop your motivation. It’s normal to drop everything.

“If some players arrive with different energy then [they think] ‘ok come on, we need to push, we need to run, we need to do the same’. That is the risk we will have in the future, if we only keep 11 players and they know they always play.

“I think the best example is we brought in, when we arrived, Ben Davies to push Danny Rose, and then Kieran Trippier to push Kyle Walker.

“We need quality and players with the facility to fight with our number one, to try to help them push their level. That is the key. If we’re capable of doing this, it’s sure we’ll have success.

“In this moment we’re finding the balance because it’s true that now is the moment to maybe refresh the team with some new faces – and it’s sure that will happen.”

READ MORE: Gossip – Spurs ‘to snatch Mahrez from Arsenal,’ Everton ’plan Reid swoop from Hammers’, Inter’s ‘Keita raid’

There is perhaps a perception among Spurs supporters that Pochettino is being frustrated by an unwillingness from chairman Daniel Levy to pay the required fees for the players on his wish-list.

“That is a very wrong perception,” says Pochettino. “In three years, my experience with Daniel has always been [that he is] trying to find players to improve us. The difference is, were they the right or wrong signing?


“The problem I think is so clear. We have some strategy and some ways to sign, and for different reasons we are not a club today that can compete with Manchester United and City for a player.

“But I think Daniel is very keen to sign, like me. The problem is when we have the type of players we’re talking about, it’s very difficult to put pressure [on them]. It’s not easy to find.”

Pochettino continued: “[Alvaro] Morata talked about me in the media. He said ‘Mauricio called me’. That was from the beginning, two years ago or more. But he said to me ‘why do you want me if you have Harry Kane?’.

“If you go to find some striker, they will say ‘eh gaffer, you want me for what? To be on the bench? Because it’s Harry Kane. I can’t compete with Harry Kane’. It’s the same with Hugo Lloris or different players.

“It’s so difficult to convince good players to come and then be on the bench. Then all the problems start – they come, they don’t play, they’re frustrated, disappointed, they drop their motivation.

“It’s better to play with younger players through the academy so you can improve them and teach them, and maybe one day they can become a very good player, and the motivation is always higher.”

While it is difficult to break into Tottenham’s first team, Pochettino offers the promise that the best performers will play, regardless of reputation.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has got the best out of Eric Dier
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has got the best out of Eric Dier

“Dele Alli came from League One and after a few months started to play,” he said. “So when a player comes in and, for instance, thinks he should play because he’s played in the Champions League, it’s not about that. You need to deserve to play.

“Dele Alli came in and was better. Sometimes people complain – not all the players. The player says ‘I am big’ – but ok, go and show that every day in every single game, that you deserve to play instead of another. That is all. Not one player that we sign doesn’t know what we expect of them.”

Pochettino’s indifference to status was evident towards the end of last season when he picked Trippier over England’s first-choice right-back Walker for Spurs’ biggest games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

“The problem is what happens when you say ‘I am number one, ‘I am number two’, and the number one believes they have more right than another, and the other feels he is less,” said Pochettino. “It’s so difficult to manage that situation.

“That’s why as a manager you must give the possibility to rotate when they’re at the same level. Last season was a very good example – Kieran and Kyle started to share one game each.

“If you watch again the last 14 games, when you play Trippier it’s 4-0 against Watford. When Kyle played against West Brom or Swansea, 4-0 or 5-0!

“When we played the game in Hong Kong, our two right-backs were in the national team squad. That gave us the reason that how we worked, giving them both the possibility to play, was the best way – to be competitive and share the level.”

There were reports Pochettino fell out with Walker – who has recently been sold to Manchester City – and that the pair disagreed on how often the full-back was able to play.

After all, he started only half of last season’s midweek Champions League games. Pochettino, however, strongly disputes any suggestions of a bust-up.

“A lot of rumours happened in that period,” says the Argentinian. “Our relationship was good. We had many conversations and he told me about the possibility, if it arrived, that after nine years at the club he wanted to go back to the north to find another challenge. It was important for him.

“It’s so strange because I never told you that he couldn’t play three times in a week. The rumours in the media that I wasn’t happy with him because he couldn’t play? I never said that. Like we had some problem or fight? Never. I can show you the message when he left.”

Pochettino is proud to have played a leading role in developing the talents of a full-back who cost City £50million.

That fee briefly made Walker the most expensive defender in the world, before Pep Guardiola’s outfit paid £53m for Benjamin Mendy – but it also comes with expectation, according to Spurs’ manager.
“Manchester City is a completely different squad than Tottenham. I think it’s a different pressure,” says Pochettino. “He’s one of the best full-backs in England, and Manchester City have paid a lot of money.

“But for me, the best Kyle I think we can see with Tottenham, and for us we feel so proud about all the players that have worked with us.

“In our first year, he didn’t play too much because he was injured, with many problems, and then you see how we all, the club, helped this type of player to improve and learn. I think it was massive.

“Today, when you pay this type of amount for a player, it’s because he’s top, because you’re at your best. Then it’s normal he will succeed.

“It’s a big pressure because when you pay for some player, it’s the pressure to perform as well in every single game. But there’s no doubt he’s a quality player, a talented player, and that he will succeed with Manchester City.”

Tottenham take on Juventus at Wembley in their final pre-season fixture on Saturday August 5. Adult / Junior tickets from £24 / £14 at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/spursjuve

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs and visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BenPearceSpurs/

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting