Pochettino insists he has no designs on move to Madrid
Ahead of Manchester City test, Spurs confirm they will not play in new stadium until 2019
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images
The Spurs manager turned down an approach from the Champions League winners to succeed Zinedine Zidane in the summer and signed a new five-year deal. With Julen Lopetegui facing a battle to keep his job, reports in Spain have suggested the Madrid president, Florentino Pérez, is hoping to tempt the Argentinian to change his mind.
But Pochettino has insisted he is fully committed to Tottenham despite delays to the completion of their new stadium. “Will I be moving in too? Yes,” he said. “When we move, I expect to move there. Only Daniel [Levy] can say: ‘The club is going to move, but you gaffer, no.’ ”
Asked about Madrid he said: “I don’t have social media so I don’t receive much information. That’s why my head, my face, I look younger than I am. Stuff like that happens in football. You can’t change anything.”
Levy, meanwhile, has confirmed that Tottenham will not play at their new stadium until 2019 because of “contractors missing deadlines and possible future unforeseen issues”.
In a statement on the club’s website the chairman said: “There isn’t an hour that goes by when I am not asked when we will be able to stage our first game at our new home. Whilst we are conscious of the need to keep pressure on our contractors to deliver as soon as possible, we are also acutely aware of how difficult the lack of clarity is for you, our supporters, to plan around games, particularly those at Christmas and New Year. In light of the above, and taking into account the restricted availability of manpower over the festive period, we have taken the decision to confirm today that all home games will be played at Wembley Stadium up to and including the game against Wolves on December 29th. We shall look to update you again in early December.”
The club appeared to indicate that their borrowing facility from their banking partners had increased. They put the figure at up to £637 million and said the net debt on June 30th, 2018, was £366 million.
Pochettino admitted he was not concerned that Sunday’s NFL game at Wembley between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles 28 hours before kick-off against City could harm their chances of beating the Premier League champions.
“Maybe it’s good for us,” he said. “We are going to face one of the best teams in Europe in Manchester City, so maybe it will help us. It wasn’t the plan for us to play in this period at Wembley – that is the problem. But we have to accept the reality. We cannot change that and now we have to hope the weather will be good and not kill the pitch so we can play in a very good condition. I’m sure that the people who prepare the pitch will work so hard to make sure it is ready.”
Tottenham trail City by only two points after seven wins from their opening nine matches. They recorded three successive league wins against City in 2015 and 2016 but were last season beaten twice by Pep Guardiola’s side.
Pochettino admitted it would be hard for his players to compete against such a formidable side but believes the resolution of their stadium move could allow them to make a more sustained title challenge.
“Manchester City are on another level,” he said. “It’s difficult to compare us with them. We want to reach this level in a different way but still we are fighting to achieve that. When the club is settled in the new stadium it will be easier to work towards the same level as City.”
Pochettino rejected the idea that it is almost impossible to defeat City: “In football nothing is impossible. We believe we can beat them.”
The manager said Dele Alli had recovered from the hamstring injury that has caused him to miss the past month, as Spurs prepare for a gruelling schedule of four fixtures in nine days. They face a trip to West Ham in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday followed by a meeting with trip to Wolves in the Premier League next Saturday and a Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven three days later.
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players that they must retain the correct attitude in training after being dropped or they will have a “big problem”.
The manager said there was currently no issue around this but was clear that anyone left out must take it professionally.
“The guys who don’t play deserve to play – it’s always like this,” Guardiola said. “When they are training in a bad way they are out of the selection. But this doesn’t happen when they train good and that’s good for us.
“It will be tough. I will be unfair. When they are not selected they are not happy – after the game they are not happy. But they have to come back happy for the training session. They have to be happy; no other solution. If they are professional they know what it is. If they have bad faces, bad moods or want to show how disappointed they are, they will have big problems because they are not going to play ... They have to know: the next game is here and they have to convince me.”
City travel to Wembley to face Tottenham in Monday night’s game, and before the weekend’s fixtures lead Liverpool on goal difference with two points separating the top five teams. Guardiola believes it is a five-horse title race. “I don’t have doubt about that,” he said.
Of Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who are fifth, he said: “For the last five or six years they are always there [at top]. They cannot invest in players because of their incredible stadium they build – it’s a lot of money. It’s a top side. It’s my first defeat [in his opening season] and I know how strong they are. Last season we did well in both games [winning both] but they’ve got a good manager and good players.” – Guardian