Perfectionist Pochettino piles pressure on Chelsea

Leave a comment

LONDON — Being four points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea isn’t enough for Mauricio Pochettino.

He wants more. He always seems to want more.

[ MORE: Spurs hammer Bournemouth ]

With his side 2-0 up in the first half on Saturday in their eventual 4-0 win against Bournemouth, Pochettino was bellowing instructions from the sidelines and was left infuriated whenever his team missed a tackle or a pass.

That didn’t happen often but whenever it did the Argentine boss let his players know about it. He’s a tough man to impress.

Pochettino demands perfection and explained his irritation when asked post-game.

“You should be focused on the game, not on myself,” Pochettino laughed. “I saw some signs, some details you are maybe disappointed with and when you are involved, sometimes you are more than other games. I think three points was a must win because we want to put pressure on our opponents. Our idea was to translate to the players that emotion that nothing is enough. To always play better, be very concentrated and very focused on the game. I don’t remember for what, but sometimes I was a little disappointed.”

That fact that Pochettino was, at times, upset with a dominant display from start to finish says it all. His team are on top form.

Spurs broke records on Saturday, winning a seventh-straight PL game for the first time and also winning 15 home games for the first time in a single season as they’re unbeaten in 17 home games in the league at White Hart Lane.

They’ve done their job in each of the past two weekends, securing back-to-back 4-0 wins in the early games to pile the pressure on Chelsea. With their London rivals heading to Manchester United on Sunday, Pochettino knows his team could be right back in this title race.

“Our job is to get three points and we got the three points. Now the pressure is on Chelsea to win at Old Trafford and I’m sure that tomorrow will be a very tough game for them,” Pochettino said. “There are still a lot of games to play. It would be fantastic tomorrow night, after the game, if we keep the gap to four points.”

Pochettino believes Chelsea are “still the favorites” to win the Premier League but compared to the fanfare they were up against last season as they crumbled late on in the campaign and the world wanted Leicester to win the title, this challenges seems easier to overcome.

Pro Soccer Talk asked Pochettino if playing earlier than Chelsea in recent weeks has been a big bonus for his team and he revealed just how tough last season was mentally to overcome the euphoria surrounding Leicester.

“If you win, like today, it is a big thing for us to put pressure on our opponent. Last season we never had the possibility to play before Leicester,” Pochettino said. “It was good, if you hear before the Palace v Arsenal game, Claudio Ranieri recognized the world was for us, trying to help Leicester. Maybe last season when I told you that, maybe you said ‘this guy is a little bit crazy’ no?

“But now that you hear from him, now I think you can be put in my position and the players’ position that it was so, so difficult because the team that all the world tried to kill was Tottenham. Impossible to understand why, but it was very good to hear from Claudio Ranieri that comment because it means a lot. It was fully deserved for Leicester but now I think you understand more our behavior and Chelsea again, I don’t know. Now you recognize the situation that was so, so difficult for us.”

Still, with the gap to Chelsea four points and goal difference a potential tiebreaker, Pochettino is, as always, demanding more from his players as he builds a winning mentality at Tottenham.

“The only way to build that winning mentality is always playing with the same tempo, focus and concentration during 90-95 minutes. Never give up,” Pochettino said. “1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0… the team must forget the result to always try to go forward and score goals. That is the mentality we are building.”

Liverpool fans warned, as Roma pledges support

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

There was a terrible incident in Liverpool on Tuesday when a Reds supporter was set upon by Roma fans and left in critical condition.

Sean Cox, 53, was attacked outside a pub before Liverpool’s 5-2 UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg win over AS Roma.

[ MORE: LFC 5-2 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Liverpool has released its plans to keep supporters safe should they be among the 5,000 with tickets in Rome on Wednesday (via LiverpoolFC.com), pledging the “most comprehensive safety and security advice.”

The club has taken the exceptional measure of requesting an extraordinary meeting in the Italian capital, which will take place on Friday April 27. … At the behest of Liverpool, club officials will join AS Roma, UEFA and the relevant Italian police and security services to discuss specific ongoing concerns.

Merseyside Police chief superintendent Dave Charnock backed up Roma’s police demand that Liverpool fans without tickets skip the trip to Italy. According to the BBC, Liverpool was asked to put fans names on their tickets to the game.

“While we understand and appreciate that many Liverpool fans will want to travel to Rome, I would encourage fans who do not have tickets to not travel,” he said.

AS Roma, for its part, posted a photo of Cox with the statement, “His recovery and the safety of all fans attending football matches, is the only thing that matters now.”

Report: Gerrard on Rangers shortlist ahead of Old Firm Derby

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Could Steven Gerrard‘s first foray into management come against his old manager and in one of the most heated derbies in the world?

The BBC is reporting that the Liverpool legend is on the shortlist for Rangers as the Glaswegian side prepares to hire a new manager in its bid to reverse Celtic domination of the Scottish Premiership and the Old Firm Derby.

[ MORE: Fulham, NFL owner to buy Wembley? ]

Brendan Rodgers has engineered a marvelous run of form for Celtic, who went unbeaten in the league last season. Rodgers is also a sought-after managerial candidate for bigger jobs in Europe, and may not be at Celtic if and when Gerrard is hired by its rivals.

Either Celtic or Rangers have won the Scottish top flight title dating back to 1984-85, when champions Aberdeen were led by some guy named Alex Ferguson.

Rangers are facing a Manchester United moment this weekend, traveling to Celtic Park for a Sunday derby against Celtic which would see their rivals clinch the Premiership with a win.

Celtic has a 10-point lead on Rangers and Aberdeen, and is extremely likely to win its seventh-straight Premiership title. The record for most consecutive Scottish titles is nine, shared by Celtic (1966-74) and Rangers (1989-97).

Sweden announces Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not return for World Cup

Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s public flirtation and seeming committal to returning to the Swedish national team for the World Cup was a big tease.

Whether it’s his call or not is up for debate.

The Swedish Football Association reports that it’s spoken with Ibrahimovic and the 35-year-old LA Galaxy striker has declined the chance to return to the fold.

[ MORE: Fulham, NFL owner to buy Wembley? ]

Sweden’s sporting director Lars Richt says Ibrahimovic has not changed his mind on international retirement despite his own words.

Sweden’s current team may have a role in that.

We imagine Richt and Sweden may be cushioning the blow for Ibrahimovic, especially if national team goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson is speaking on behalf of a team vibe when he speaks of Zlatan being “an individualist” who could ruin Sweden’s team-first concept.

Report: Fulham, NFL owner Khan agrees $700m price for Wembley

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
1 Comment

Fulham owner Shad Khan also owns a National Football League team, and could have two top-flight teams from different nations playing in England soon.

For Fulham, the Cottagers are currently very much in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League and at the least will have a chance at qualifying through the playoffs.

[ MORE: TFC loses CCL Final in PKs ]

For the Jaguars, who have rarely needed all the seats in their stadium, it could mean a move to London if Khan goes through with what’s being reported as an accepted $700 million bid to buy Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium was also built with the design to host NFL games.

Here’s how ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith puts a bow on it (on one of the biggest days of the NFL calendar, nonetheless):

So it’s possible that there could soon be two iconic soccer stadiums in London with strong NFL ties, one which was built with NFL games in mind, and another that is owned by an NFL owner. The league is pouring serious resources into London.

It seems unlikely Khan would move Fulham from Craven Cottage, but there are other repercussions of this move for soccer in England.

There’s the potential for the England national team to no longer utlizie a permanent home, and the FA Cup and League Cup both potentially requiring new or rotating venues for their final rounds.

A lot to monitor here, and we’ll surely have all the details as they emerge from Khan’s crew.