Spur-ious!

> Spurs not yet up to European de­mands, admits Po­chet­tino af­ter Cham­pi­ons League el­em­i­na­tion <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

TOT­TEN­HAM HOT­SPUR man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino ad­mit­ted his side have strug­gled to cope with the twin de­mands of play­ing in the Premier League and in Europe af­ter their shock exit from the Cham­pi­ons League yes­ter­day.

Spurs slumped to their third de­feat in five games in Europe’s elite club com­pe­ti­tion when they went down 2-1 to Monaco at the Stade Louis II to end their hopes of reach­ing the last 16 with a group game still to play.

The north London club needed a point to stay in the hunt and saw Harry Kane’s 52nd-minute penalty bring them level just four min­utes af­ter Djib­ril Sidibe had put Monaco ahead.

How­ever, the prin­ci­pal­ity side – who saw Radamel Fal­cao have an early penalty saved by Hugo Lloris – im­me­di­ately went back in front through Thomas Le­mar be­fore hold­ing on to progress as Group E win­ners.

Tot­ten­ham have now won just one of their last nine matches in all com­pe­ti­tions but Po­chet­tino said: “I think it was a good chal­lenge for us to com­pete in the Cham­pi­ons League and show our real level.

“We are com­pet­i­tive in the Premier League, be­cause we are un­beaten af­ter 12 games and near the top.

“It is good for us to learn and try again in the fu­ture. Maybe if we are in the Cham­pi­ons League next sea­son we will need to make some changes.

“Af­ter two and a half years we have re­duced the gap to the top teams in the Premier League. To be com­pet­i­tive in both com­pe­ti­tions we need to show more and also add more qual­ity to our squad.

“The Cham­pi­ons League de­mands the same en­ergy as the Premier League and I think we have strug­gled a lit­tle with that.

“I am dis­ap­pointed but this has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence for us.”

Tot­ten­ham, who fin­ished third in the Premier League last sea­son, have been a club on the up un­der Po­chet­tino and the Ar­gen­tine is still look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture of turn­ing them into Cham­pi­ons League reg­u­lars once they move into their new sta­dium in 2018.

“Our pro­ject is not fin­ished today,” said the 44-year-old.

“Many weeks ago I said these are our first steps. The ob­jec­tive is to be in the Cham­pi­ons League reg­u­larly when we have the new sta­dium.”

Tot­ten­ham will host CSKA Moscow at Wem­b­ley – where they have lost two out of two games so far – in their last group match next month need­ing a draw to se­cure a con­so­la­tion spot in the Europa League af­ter Christ­mas.

“It would be good for the club to get into the Europa League and try to go fur­ther in that com­pe­ti­tion,” he said, dis­miss­ing sug­ges­tions that com­pe­ti­tion would be a has­sle they could do with­out.

Be­fore that Tot­ten­ham have a trip to Chelsea for a London derby on Satur­day that will be cru­cial for their Premier League am­bi­tions – they are cur­rently four points be­hind An­to­nio Conte’s table­top­pers in fifth place.

“We feel bad now but to­mor­row is an­other day to look for­ward and be op­ti­mistic. We need to com­pete on Satur­day against Chelsea, lift the play­ers and try to go there and win the game.”

Mean­while, Monaco go through along with Bayer Lev­erkusen af­ter an­other im­pres­sive per­for­mance and few sides will fancy com­ing up against Leonardo Jardim’s tal­ented young side in the last 16.

Monaco have elim­i­nated the likes of Manch­ester United, Chelsea and Arse­nal in the Cham­pi­ons League in the past and this was an­other mem­o­rable scalp for a team that be­gan this sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion in the third qual­i­fy­ing round in July.

“I am very happy to be through and to have won the group but also with the per­for­mance of the team. I think we played re­ally well,” said Jardim.

“The play­ers have shown lots of great qual­ity and in­ten­sity over the last four months.” – AFP

– AFPPIX

Monaco de­fender Djib­ril Sidibe ( cen­tre) scores past Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s French goal­keeper Hugo Lloris dur­ing the Cham­pi­ons League Group E match at the Louis II sta­dium in Monaco yes­ter­day.

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