Mauricio Pochettino admits that might have left Tottenham Hotspur had the north London club found a way to beat Liverpool in last month’s UEFA Champions League final.
[ MORE: Harry Winks says trophies for Spurs are “round the corner” ]
In Pochettino’s mind, reaching the pinnacle would have caused everyone at the club — from the players, to the rest of the coaching staff, and even himself — to “behave differently.” If/when Pochettino wins his first major trophy as a manager, he won’t be one to rest on his laurels for more than a day or two — quotes from the BBC:
“When you touch the glory, you behave differently, the players behave differently, the challenge becomes different.
“If the result had been different, maybe you can think it is a moment to step out of the club and give it a possibility for a real new chapter with a new coaching staff.
“But, to finish like this? I am not a person who won’t face problems or avoids difficult situations.”
Fortunately for the long-term viability of the club, Pochettino is set to begin his fifth season as Tottenham manager. Still, though, Spurs’ best shot at a trophy remains in the cup competitions, with Manchester City and Liverpool seemingly set to lead the Premier League for the foreseeable future.
One player who might not be around long enough to enjoy any of Spurs’ future successes is Danny Rose. While the entire first team is in Singapore for preseason, Rose is back in London after being granted time “to explore prospective opportunities with other clubs.”
Pochettino says Rose has 10 days to sort out a transfer for himself — with PSG and Schalke both reportedly interested abroad — otherwise “he will be normal with the team” once they return to north London.
Scottish Premier League champion Celtic advanced mostly with ease to the second round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.
In the first official home game of the season at Celtic Park, Celtic defeated FK Sarajevo, 2-1, advancing with a 5-2 aggregate victory. Manager Neil Lennon was able to rest some starters, including Craig Gordon, Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths as Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor scored for the hosts.
A second half turnover led to a wide-open Benjamin Tatar in the box, who finished to tie the score at 1-1 on the night. McGregor’s 76th minute smash from 30-yards out gave Celtic the lead again, which it held on to for the rest of the game.
With the win, Celtic advances to face Nõmme Kalju of Estonia, with matches set to take place July 23/24 and July 30/31.
Here’s a roundup of other UCL first round qualifying second leg scores.
Riga FC 0-0 Dundalk (4-5 on penalty kicks)
AIK 3-1 Ararat
Qarabag 2-0 Partizani
Rosenborg 4-0 Linfield
Ludogorets 2-3 Ferencvaros
CFR Cluj 3-1 Astana
Piast Gliwice 1-2 BATE Borisov
Maribor 2-0 Valur
Sutjeska 1-1 Slovan Bratislava
Second legs are underway in the UEFA Champions League first qualification round, and both Red Star Belgrade and The New Saints from Wales are through to the second round.
Here’s a short roundup of UCL action on Tuesday:
Red Star Belgrade 2-1 Sudova (2-1 on Aggregate)
The Serbian giants advance to the next round with a big 2-1 win over Lithuanian Champions Sudova. Richmond Boakye and former Chelsea midfielder Marko Marin both scored in the first half. Red Star Belgrade was set to keep a clean sheet but Sudova scored late.
With the win, Red Star Belgrade moves on to face HJK Helsinki in Finland in the second round.
The New Saints 1-0 Feronikeli (3-2 on aggregate)
Welsh Premier League side The New Saints defeated Kosovan club Feronikeli, 1-0, thanks to a goal from Irish forward Dean Ebbe. Ebbe came off the bench and headed home a lofted ball into the box.
Feronikeli had chances to take the lead early, including twice in the first ten minutes, but blasted shots in the box well over the wall.
UEFA Champions League Second Leg Results
Shkendija 1 – 2 Nõmme Kalju
Saburtalo 1 – 3 FC Sheriff
Valletta 1 – 1 F91 Dudelange
HB 2 – 2 HJK
The UEFA Champions League is back (sort of).
Teams that qualified for the qualification stage of the tournament took their next steps on this week with the first legs of the first qualifying round.
FK Sarajevo 1-3 Celtic
Celtic boss Neil Lennon was thrilled with the Bhoys first serious match of a new season.
“We had to fit a few square pegs in round holes because of where we are with the squad,” he said. “I thought [Kristoffer] Ajer was unbelievable at right back. Obviously that’s not a long-term thing.”
Mirko Oremus opened the scoring for the hosts in the 29th minute, but Celtic answered six minutes later through Michael Johnston. Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair finished off the scoring, and the visitors are in fine shape for the second leg in Glasgow.
HJK Helsinki 3-0 HB Toshavn
A 30th minute red card to Faith Friday Obilor wasn’t enough to short-circuit HJK’s chances. Leading 1-0 at the the time on Lassi Lappalainen’s first of two goals, the Finnish side eased into the second leg. Daniel O’Shaughnessy scored the other goal.
Nomme Kalju 0-1 Shkendija
Suduva 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ararat-Armenia 2-1 AIK
Astana 1-0 CFR Cluj
F91 Dudelange 2-2 Valletta
New Saints 2-2 Feronikeli
Ferencvaros v. Ludogorets Razgrad
Partizani v. Qarabag
Slovan Bratislava v. Sutjeska Niksic
Sheriff Tiraspol v. Saburtalo Tbilisi
Linfield v. Rosenborg
Valur v. Maribor
Dundalk v. Riga FC
BATE Borisov v. Piast Gliwice
The first qualifying round of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League kicks off on Tuesday, with Scottish champions Celtic in action.
[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]
16 games take place across Tuesday and Wednesday, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic heading to Bosnia and Herzegovina to play FK Sarajevo. Celtic are favored, but these early European games are always trick to negotiate.
Some other notable teams in UCL first qualifying round, first leg action on Tuesday include Red Star Belgrade playing FK Suduva, while Welsh side The New Saints play Kosovan side Feronikeli.
Teams still have to get through another three rounds to make the UCL group stage, but Astana, FC Ararat Armenia, FK Shkendija and HJK Helsinki all record first leg victories earlier on Tuesday.
Below is the schedule for Tuesday, while you can click on the link above to follow the action and scores from around Europe.
Tuesday’s UCL first qualifying round, first leg schedule
Astana 1-0 CFR Cluj – Result
FC Ararat Armenia 2-1 AIK – Result
Nomme Kalju 0-1 FK Shkendija – Result
HJK Helsinki 3-0 Havnar Boltfelag – Result
FK Sarajevo v. Celtic
The New Saints v. Feronikeli
FK Suduva v. Red Star Belgrade
F91 Dudelange v. Valletta FC