Tot­ten­ham’s Po­chet­tino brushes aside Real links

Lon­don club con­firm they will not play in new sta­dium un­til 2019

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - Ed Aarons and Jamie Jackson

Mauricio Po­chet­tino has brushed aside re­ports link­ing him with Real Madrid as Tot­ten­ham con­firmed they would not be play­ing in their new sta­dium un­til next year.

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.

Re­stricted avail­abil­ity

“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 to­mor­row’s Amer­i­can Foot­ball game at Wem­b­ley be­tween the Jack­sonville Jaguars and Philadel­phia Ea­gles 28 hours be­fore kick-off against City on Mon­day 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.”

Suc­ces­sive wins

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 League 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.

Guardi­ola warns

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.”

– Guardian

Mauricio Po­chet­tino: has in­sisted he is fully com­mit­ted to stay­ing at Tot­ten­ham

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