Mauricio Pochettino slams Tottenham’s lack of fight after defeat at Leicester
Mauricio Pochettino accused his Tottenham Hotspur players of lacking fight after their fading title hopes all but disappeared with a chastening 2-1 defeat at Leicester City. It was a third successive loss away from home in the Premier League and Pochettino said a “sloppy” first-half performance should serve as a warning to his players that, “if you don’t compete, you are going to struggle”.
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez scored spectacular goals in the first half and, although Harry Kane pulled a goal back in the second half, Leicester held on for a victory that leaves Spurs 13 points behind Manchester City having played a game more.
Asked why his team started so badly, Pochettino said: “It’s a good question because we talk a lot about starting in a better way than how we started against West Bromwich on Saturday and again we concede a goal. Then it’s true that it was difficult to play. First half they were more aggressive than us. We need to learn from this game, that we need to start every game with the first idea being fighting and competing. If you don’t compete and fight in the Premier League, the gap, or the quality, is even and you are sure that you are going to struggle. And of course the performance today was a very clear example [of that].
“It’s difficult to analyse the game in the way that we started, so sloppy. Our performance in the first half disappointed us a lot. It’s not about tactics or a different system or the selection or the starting XI. The collective performance was so poor. I think in football, first of all you must compete, you must fight, you must be focused and then of course your quality will appear. But Leicester showed more than us.”
One of the few positives for Spurs was the sight of Érik Lamela coming off the bench to set up Kane’s goal. The Argentinian was making his first appearance for 13 months following serious hip injuries and Spurs immediately benefitted from his presence. “I think in the second half we competed and fought and I think in the end, if the game finished 2-2 or 2-3 for us, it was deserved,” said Pochettino, who lamented the golden opportunity Fernando Llorente squandered to equalise. “But it’s true we weren’t clinical, because we had a few easy chances to score.”