Pochettino says Spurs must stick together following Bayern Munich defeat
‘One bad result is not going to change our plans. We are so strong in our mentality and our ideas’
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino waiting for kickoff in the Champions League match against Bayern Munich in north London. Photograph: Getty Images
Mauricio Pochettino has taken a shellacking before. After the 7-2 defeat by Bayern Munich, the Tottenham manager was asked whether he had lost by such a large margin before. His answer was immediate, comprehensive and had an inspiring twist. Almost as if he had planned it.
“I don’t remember if I ever conceded seven before but I lost 6-0, yes,” the Tottenham manager said. “I remember it was in January 1990, at Newell’s Old Boys. We were playing in the Copa Libertadores against San Lorenzo, and the score was 6-0. At home. Yes, it was really, really painful. It was similar to Bayern Munich. But that season we finished by winning the Premier League in Argentina. In six months we completely changed the perception and sometimes these situations make you stronger.”
See whether you can work out the moral of that particular story.
Spurs’ season has been a tide of mishaps, broken up by the odd moment of calm. The Bayern result, where the German club scored seven goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium from 10 shots on target, followed the penalty shootout loss to Colchester in the Carabao Cup, the defeat at Leicester and a transfer window that saw players come in injured and players hang around instead of leaving.
A feisty point at Manchester City and a comeback win with 10 men against Southampton provided the relief, but it wasn’t to last for long. If Pochettino has taken time to dredge up a story about triumph in the face of adversity, you can hardly blame him.
It has become something of a habit among Spurs watchers to try to read the manager’s mood at his press conferences as being representative of his broader state of mind. Frustrated over the summer (had he fallen out with Daniel Levy?), in recent weeks he has been tub thumping (had he lost the support of his squad?) and after Tuesday’s defeat he was calm (had he given up?)
The likelihood is that, as with many things in the modern game, Pochettino’s attitude has been subject to over-interpretation but, for what it’s worth, he was pretty chipper in advance of Saturday’s lunchtime game at Brighton.
The cheeky grin was back as he responded to rumours Spurs are about to let Amazon into his dressing room for a Manchester City-style documentary (“It’s speculation,” he grinned, echoing the gruffer injunction of his media handler).
He made jokes and laughed off the observation his team have lost as many games, 16, as Brighton in 2019. “I think we played more matches,” he observed.
Whether it was a reflection of his real mood, a performance, or a bit of both, Spurs fans will be pleased to see their manager looking as if he has managed to put the cares of the world to one side for a moment. And on the subject of his own future, he was pretty short and to the point: “Now is the moment to stay together.”
But what are the prospects of the Bayern demolition drawing a line under his team’s bad spell?
“We were talking before training, during training, after training, during lunch,” Pochettino said, describing the response this week. “With that kind of defeat you cannot be happy. We all feel the same; it was so painful.
“Of course the players are trying to move on, they are trying to run down the time before they have the possibility to play again, to try to repay the fans and rebuild the confidence we need to win games. When you feel pain and you are so down, only you can bounce back.
“They know I think we played the best period in the season in the first 30 minutes of the first half. That is why the most important thing is to support each other and stay all together.
“One bad result is not going to change our plans. We are so strong in our mentality and our ideas. We are talking about football, so if you don’t win you need to assess and, of course, analyse everything. You are going to find a way to improve of course, but we will stay strong in our ideas.”
Assertive enough, then, but at the same time Pochettino was reluctant to put any stress on the importance of beating Brighton. He suggested Moussa Sissoko would replace the suspended Serge Aurier at full-back, and that his team would show complete respect for the opponent.
But for someone who understands the importance of his public appearances, the Argentinian was not about to give a hostage to fortune. Would the Bayern result give him the easiest team talk of the season, he was asked. “I will tell you after,” came the reply.