Pochettino: I could not quit Tot­ten­ham fol­low­ing fi­nal loss

Spurs man­ager says he would have left af­ter win Rose will not be rushed into ac­cept­ing a move

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By James Ducker in Sin­ga­pore and Matt Law

Mauri­cio Pochettino has ad­mit­ted he would have quit Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur had they won the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal – but could not turn his back on the club af­ter such heartache.

Tot­ten­ham’s hopes of a first Euro­pean Cup were crushed when they lost 2-0 to Liver­pool in Madrid last month. Striker Harry Kane can­not bear to watch the game back and has still to come to terms with the dis­ap­point­ment.

Pochettino has re­vealed he was ready to walk away if Spurs had lifted the tro­phy but the Ar­gen­tine, speak­ing in Sin­ga­pore ahead of his side’s In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup tie against Ju­ven­tus to­mor­row, said such a near miss had only deep­ened his de­ter­mi­na­tion to lead the club to suc­cess. “I am al­ways go­ing to pri­ori­tise the club over my­self,” said Pochettino, who was linked with the Manch­ester United, Real Madrid and Ju­ven­tus jobs this year.

“Maybe if it was a dif­fer­ent re­sult af­ter the fi­nal you can think: ‘OK, maybe this is a mo­ment to leave the club and give them the pos­si­bil­ity of a new chap­ter with new staff.’

“But af­ter the fi­nal I felt this was not great to fin­ish like this. I’m not a per­son that avoids fac­ing prob­lems. I love a mas­sive chal­lenge and now to re­build that men­tal­ity, that is ex­cit­ing and mo­ti­vates me a lot.”

Asked if the sit­u­a­tion could have been dif­fer­ent had Spurs beaten Liver­pool, he said: “For sure. You know very well when you touch glory you be­have dif­fer­ently or you feel dif­fer­ent and the chal­lenge be­comes dif­fer­ent.”

Kane is not cer­tain he will ever fully get over the Liver­pool de­feat, but de­fended Pochettino’s con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to start him af­ter seven weeks out ahead of semi-fi­nal hat-trick hero Lu­cas Moura.

“It was a tough one to take. When you get to those big games and you don’t quite per­form the way you know you can, that’s al­ways the bit that hurts you the most,” he said. “We know it was there for the tak­ing and that’s some­thing we’ve had to think about over the sum­mer.

“Those type of losses al­ways stay with you for a while, I don’t think you ever fully get over them. But it makes you stronger, it makes you more de­ter­mined. I haven’t [watched it back]. I don’t want to watch it. As a player, you know when you could have done bet­ter.

“The gaffer made a de­ci­sion on what he thought was the best for the team and it ob­vi­ously didn’t work out in our favour.”

Kane said the chal­lenge now was for Spurs – who lost 13 league games last sea­son en route to fin­ish­ing fourth, 27 points be­hind cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City – to be­come more con­sis­tent. “We know we could have done a lot bet­ter in the league last sea­son,” he said.

“We need to try to be more con­sis­tent. When you look at City and Liver­pool, that’s what they were last sea­son and it’s down to us to match that, if not bet­ter it.”

Mean­while, it is un­der­stood Danny Rose will not be rushed into find­ing a new club, de­spite miss­ing Tot­ten­ham’s pre-sea­son tour of Asia. Spurs con­firmed this week that Rose, along with Vin­cent Janssen and Ge­orges-kevin Nk­oudou, would not travel with the rest of the squad “to ex­plore prospec­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties with other clubs”.

The Eng­land left-back, who is con­tracted to Spurs un­til 2021, has not got any­thing lined up and will not be forced into ac­cept­ing any of­fer he is un­sure about.

With Eng­land’s top clubs yet to bid for Rose, 29, who Tot­ten­ham value at around £20 mil­lion, a move abroad is rated as the most likely sce­nario if he leaves this sum­mer, with Paris St-ger­main and Ju­ven­tus linked with moves for Rose.

Un­cer­tainty also sur­rounds the fu­ture of play­maker Chris­tian Erik­sen, who Pochettino said had un­der­gone a small groin pro­ce­dure af­ter the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.

Fighter: Mauri­cio Pochettino (right) is de­ter­mined to re­build his squad

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