Mauricio Pochettino slams Tot­ten­ham’s lack of fight af­ter de­feat at Le­ices­ter

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Stu­art James at the King Power Sta­dium

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.”

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