Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Pochettino: “That is the best 45 minutes I have seen” at Spurs

Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur suffered the narrowest of defeats on Sunday, at the hands of Manchester United, yet Mauricio Pochettino called his side’s performance “the best” he has seen in his time at the club.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

Particularly during the second half, Tottenham poured on the pressure and likely would have scored two or three goals against any goalkeeper not named David De Gea. Despite seeing his side lose for the second time in three Premier League games, Pochettino was full of nothing but praise, for his players and the villainous De Gea, after the game — quotes from the BBC:

 

“It was an amazing second half, I am so pleased. … The team was fantastic. That is the best 45 minutes I have seen Tottenham play since I took in charge.

“Sometimes you win a game and you are disappointed, like when we won 3-0 at Old Trafford (in August). Today the result should be different and I am happy. That is the way that we want to grow and play — taking risks, playing football that we are going to play.

21 shots in the game, including 14 in the second half. 11 shots on target, all thwarted by an otherworldly performance by De Gea.

“Eleven saves from De Gea who was outstanding. He fully deserved to be man of the match.”

Despite the result, Spurs remain third in the PL table, a point ahead of fourth-place Chelsea and still seven clear of fifth- and sixth-place Arsenal and Man United, respectively.

Solskjaer beats Pochettino in public Man United job interview

1 Comment

LONDON — The boardroom was 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium. The interview: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer v. Mauricio Pochettino for the Manchester United job.

The former has his nose in front, for now.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Billed as a clash between Solskjaer and Pochettino and who will be handed the chance to lead United long-term, an absorbing end-to-end clash took place at Wembley as United shaded a splendid encounter.

This was a statement win from United and Solskjaer which breathed new life into their season.

David De Gea made several wonderful saves to deny Spurs in the second half as the Red Devils sealed a fifth-straight Premier League win (it was the biggest so far by some margin) to kick off Solskjaer’s reign as caretaker boss.

The way he has rejuvenated Marcus Rashford as a central striker and Paul Pogba as a dominant no.10 are two of the biggest reasons for giving him the United job on a permanent basis right now.

After the game both Solskjaer and Pochettino, who were shown enjoying a warm embrace before the game, were asked about their supposed duel to be sat in the hot seat at Old Trafford for the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

“This game was never about me or him. You made it out to be, for us it is three points,” Solskjaer said. “We had to beat them today if we are going to have the chance to catch them. We were 10 points behind them, now we are seven. Seven points is catchable. 13 impossible. 10 difficult. Now, we have a chance.”

Pochettino was standoffish when asked about the rumored battle between himself and Solskjaer to take the United job.

Instead he focused on how much better Tottenham were than United throughout the 90 minutes and how De Gea was the difference between the teams.

“It is not ethical to talk about what he is doing or what I am doing. You can only talk about the game. Today, to talk about the game, of course we were better,” Pochettino said. “I think we dominated the game, we created more chances than them, and the second half we created 11 shots on target that produced 11 saves from the goalkeeper. It was a game and a battle between Tottenham and Manchester United. If not, we need to play him against me, one v. one, on the pitch. And then the next game against Fulham, Ranieri. The next game, Sarri. Come on, it is football.”

The fact that Solskjaer beat Pochettino to close the gap on Spurs and leave United just six points off the top four shows his ability to deliver big wins at key moments, and how that extends from his playing career to his managerial career.

He is getting the most out of this Man United squad and has them playing to their strengths. No doubt.

But the sample size is still too small to suggest he is by far the best long-term prospect to take charge of United.

Pochettino may well be the best man to lead them into a brave new world with youngsters at the core if United decide to make their move for him this summer and he decides he has taken Spurs as far as he can.

But back to the man of the moment, Solskjaer: United’s legendary forward admitted he isn’t thinking about taking over full-time when his caretaker role ends, even if he has mentioned it a few times over the last month since he took over from Jose Mourinho.

“I am just doing my job every single day here until the contract runs out, the end of June, I will have a holiday in there. I am not thinking about that whatsoever,” Solskjaer said.

But there’s no doubt the win at Spurs, and against Pochettino, has massively boosted his chances of getting the gig on a permanent basis.

“The win here was massive. The team spirit was massive. The belief and joy in the dressing room absolutely fantastic,” Solskjaer said. “Of course we have been away for a week working on certain things and when the boys see the benefits of that work, both fitness and maybe tactically. It is massive. Results like this, against big teams, they do give you confidence.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, De Gea summed up what Solskjaer has done to lift the gloom from the Mourinho era.

“The manager brought some happiness, the players are playing well and the team is very strong now. This is the real Manchester United.”

Spurs react to VAR helping award Kane decisive League Cup penalty

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Leave a comment

Harry Kane has received the benefit of video in other competitions, but this time Video Assistant Referee directly helped his club, Tottenham Hotspur, take a 1-0 lead over Chelsea after 90 minutes of their League Cup semifinal.

Kane was initially ruled offside when he was chopped down in the box by Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

[ RECAP: Spurs 1-0 Chelsea ]

VAR came to the rescue, though, and Kane has no doubts about the call made before he converted his penalty kick to make it 1-0.

“I played to the whistle and nicked it round the keeper,” Kane said. “It was a clear penalty. VAR is there for a reason and they got it right.”

Believe it or not, his manager wasn’t wild about it. Not because it isn’t right to implement VAR, rather concerned what could happen if it isn’t running smoothly when it comes to the Premier League.

Here’s the boss in question, Spurs’ Mauricio Pochettino:

“I don’t like the VAR. Today we get the benefit of it but after watching the World Cup and another league like La Liga I see that nobody is happy from day one that they started to use it. To get the benefit is nice but I am unhappy to win the game like this. I prefer the technology but in a different way. Being clear: I am pro technology because you cannot stop evolution. But we are waiting so long, it is not clear what are the rules.

“We all have to agree, the players, the coaching staff, I watch every week La Liga and nobody is happy, the big clubs and the small clubs. If you are playing to win the title or to stay up nobody is happy. … We have six months to improve the system and there is a lot of work to do.”

If he doesn’t like it, just imagine what Maurizio Sarri is going to say about it. Also, perhaps it’s worth noting that rumored Real Madrid target Pochettino is watching a lot of Spanish football. Just perhaps, because he did talk about a possible 20-year reign in North London earlier this week.

Kane said Chelsea had a point to prove in its latest visit to Wembley Stadium to meet his Tottenham Hotspur, and Danny Rose agreed with his striker.

Rose praised the home side for digging in against a team which was inspired by a 3-1 loss in the same venue during league play, and thinks the second leg sets up nicely for Spurs.

“There is going to be a bit more pressure on them to come out and attack us now, but we are one of the best counter-attacking teams in the league so we are looking forward to it,” Rose said. “We won’t go there and try to protect the lead, we will play our game.”

Sarri: Pochettino ‘has to win trophy’ at Spurs

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
1 Comment

London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea begin their League Cup semifinal with a first leg at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, and their managers are striking two different notes on the same ideas: Championships and legacy.

Both involve the big picture, though, and Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri‘s thoughts center around the importance of winning hardware. Not just for his short reign at Chelsea, but — pressure alert — Pochettino’s tenure at Spurs.

[ MORE: Wolves-LFC recap | 4th round draw ]

“I agree he has to win a trophy, I hope not this,” Sarri said, according to The London Evening Standard. “For Pochettino, four years (without a trophy), for Jurgen Klopp, four years. It was really very hard in the first season also for Pep Guardiola so here it is really very difficult to build up a very good team – you need time.”

Sarri also admitted that the Blues’ 3-1 Premier League loss at Spurs hurt their season in a big way.

Meanwhile, Pochettino was discussing his admiration for another former London boss, two-decade plus Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger. And for him, five years is a short part of a big project. From the LES:

“It’s true it’s only going to be my fifth year,” Pochettino said. “But it’s true we work and we know the reality of all that happens inside, and sometimes we cannot expect that the people [on the outside] live the same reality or have the same knowledge about what happens inside. I hope, or I wish maybe, to be here 20 years and decide to leave or to finish my career here.

“But I don’t know because I need to ask him if I have one day the possibility if he is so happy in the way that he finished. I don’t believe. What I saw from my point of view, it was so unfair how the people treated him and talked. But we’ll see.”

Are we the only ones having a difficult time keeping that in context? Does Pochettino harbor thoughts about leaving before spoiling his legacy? Or does he genuinely think a long run at Spurs is in the offering?

Trust us, Ed Woodward and Florentino Perez really would like to know the answers to those questions (even the context one).

Pochettino says he brought Harry Kane on up 6-0 ‘out of respect’

Getty Images
2 Comments

Mauricio Pochettino was asked why he brought Harry Kane off the bench with a 6-0 lead and 15 minutes remaining in their FA Cup third round matchup against fourth-tier Tranmere Rovers.

“It was respect,” Pochettino said in his post-match press conference. “Respect the people, respect the opponent.”

Some might call it class, while others might consider a move like that pouring it on. Nonetheless, Pochettino was thinking about the fans, and even the opposing players. He felt it was necessary to allow them to enjoy seeing Kane play.

“They’re not going to have many chances to see Harry Kane play here in a competition like the FA Cup,” Pochettino said. “For different reasons I decided to make a change and put Kane on the pitch but one of them is that it’s important to show respect to the people here so they could see Harry Kane, who is an icon in English football. It is difficult in that division to see it. It was important to see him in action.”

It’s likely that Pochettino’s “different reasons” include getting Kane some game time, and working on different tactics with such a healthy lead. He ended up scoring Tottenham’s 7th and final goal of the match in the 82nd minute.

Pochettino has not been shy about Kane’s minutes this season, as the England international has appeared in every Premier League game so far, accumulating nearly 1,800 minutes. Across all competitions, Kane has nearly 2,400 minutes in 28 total appearances.