When the question came, Danny Rose shook his head in frustration. “This is getting silly now,” he said.
Emerging after Tottenham’s 3-0 Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia at Wembley last night, the left-back had been asked to clarify what happened in his exchange with Mauricio Pochettino around the 70-minute mark.
Having suffered a cut above his left eye, and after being told by his manager that he could not play on, he walked off down the tunnel.
This was interpreted in some quarters as a show of dissent – evidence that Pochettino and Rose still have unresolved issues.
In fact, the England man was heading to the dressing room to have the wound sewn up with stitches.
Rose admits he was frustrated to have to come off. But he is more frustrated at having to bat away rumours of a rift with Pochettino every couple of weeks.
“This is getting silly now,” he said. “The manager said it was best I came off and I didn’t want to come off. That was it. I’ve seen already that people are saying we exchanged words.
“There is no issue between me and the manager. There has never been an issue, and people trying to put stuff in the media is not welcomed.
“For the last three and a half years, or four years, the manager has been my biggest fan. He’s given me nothing but love and respect. There is no issue and there never will be an issue. People need to stop this because it’s not welcomed.”
Part of Rose’s disappointment at his early withdrawal was due to the fact that, having returned to action in mid-October after a long-term knee injury, he knows he needs minutes on the pitch to return to his best level.
“If I’d got through the game it would have been nice,” he said. “I’m probably still another game or two from feeling where I was last season.
“I’m playing one game a week at the minute so hopefully I’ll get there if I stay injury-free. Once we get through this Christmas period and into the new year, I feel as if I’ll be 100 per cent.”
Rumours persist that Rose could be a target for Manchester United in the January transfer window.
But, assuming he is still at Tottenham in February, he and his team-mates will be gearing up for a last-16 Champions League tie – the club’s first knockout match in the competition for seven years.
Having finished top of Group H with 16 points from a possible 18 – despite facing reigning European champions Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund – Spurs will be pitted against one of the other groups’ runners-up in Monday’s draw.
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Bayern Munich and Juventus are the scariest possible opponents, but the Lilywhites can also be paired with Basel, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto.
And, although Rose would like to avoid the German champions, he feels Tottenham would fancy their chances against anyone.
“I wouldn’t like Bayern,” he said. “But we don’t fear anybody. I think the manager would prefer us to have one of the top teams. He relishes those sorts of games.
“We’ve proved this season that we do turn up in these games, and we’ll be looking forward to the draw. Whoever is out there, we’re confident we can beat anybody and we’ve proved that throughout the group stage.
“It’s not easy to go to the Bernabeu and get a point, and maybe we should have won the game. It’s not easy to beat Real Madrid convincingly here.
“I hope teams look at those performances and realise Tottenham are a team to be feared, and when we turn up we can beat anybody on our night.”
The question now is whether Spurs will “turn up” against Stoke at Wembley on Saturday, because their Premier League form has been rather less impressive than their European results.
Pochettino’s side have won just one of their last six league games, and have only collected two points from their last three top-flight fixtures against West Bromwich Albion, Leicester and Watford.
“I’m not sure why,” said Rose. “I can tell you as of recently we’ve lost or drawn games because we’ve not started them in the right manner.
“When teams are coming here, especially like West Brom, they scored early and then they sit back and make it difficult for us to break them down.
“But there are no excuses. We know that teams may do that when they come here and we’ve got more than enough quality in the starting XI or on the bench to be able to break teams down. We fully expect that. It will be no different at the weekend, and against Brighton next week.”
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