Spurs remain outsiders to win their first title since 1961, although Manchester City’s thrilling 2-1 win over leaders Liverpool leaves them just six points from the summit.
Three years ago, Pochettino felt the League was against Spurs as they challenged Leicester’s fairytale run to the title — and the Argentine believes little has changed, even though they are now competing with far wealthier rivals.
Although there is plenty to admire about Tottenham’s approach, Pochettino claims every game is now “massive”, pointing to the 3-1 defeat to Wolves last week as an example, because the club has created “something special” in English football.
“We’re the team to beat,” Pochettino told Standard Sport ahead of tonight’s FA Cup third-round tie at Tranmere. “It’s not arrogant, it’s realistic. [People say], ‘How are Tottenham there?’ — a club like Chelsea can spend big money on a transfer [Christian Pulisic] and then send him on loan. Do you think Tottenham can do this? No. But in the last few years, Tottenham are fighting with this type of club.
“That’s why no-one likes Tottenham much, that’s why everyone wants to challenge us. It’s a massive game for us every time. Wolves beat us and they behaved like they won the Premier League. Then on Wednesday they lost to Crystal Palace. It’s because Tottenham have created something special — and now we are a target. When we fought with Leicester, everyone wanted to kill us! For many people we’re not very successful because we haven’t won a trophy [but] people respect the way we’re doing it.”
Since Pochettino joined the club in 2014, Spurs’s net spend is roughly £30million — some £150m less than Liverpool’s and nearly £500m short of City’s — and his spending is likely to be restricted again this month, with the club’s bearing the heavy burden of from their £1billion stadium project.
It was suggested to Pochettino that Spurs should really be the neutrals’ favourite in this season’s title race. “Maybe we’re not the good guys, eh?” he said. “It’s a little bit weird, the perception of us. I don’t know why it is.
“When we started here it was nice. [People said], ‘Tottenham are very nice guys’. Then when we started to be up there, everyone said, ‘They are going to go down’. And then we were there again and there again and they started to say, ‘Now they’re a problem’. The moment that we win [trophies], okay kill us! But now? Maybe if we win something it’s a moment to go away!”