Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino could learn from Jose Mourinho and Brian Clough when it comes to prioritising the League Cup
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 September 2017
PA Archive/PA Images
Tottenham Hotspur should do everything they can to win League Cup or FA Cup this season because it could potentially start a dynasty for this young squad
Mauricio Pochettino, when speaking at his pre-match press conference at Hotspur Way yesterday to preview tonight’s English Football League Cup third-round tie with Barnsley, reiterated his desire to win big trophies with Spurs.
The Argentine discussed how the main aim for the north London club is to triumph in the Premier League or the Champions League.
Pochettino explained that Spurs would be wrong to favour winning the newly named Carabao Cup or FA Cup over success in Europe or in the league.
Below are the exact quotes from the 45-year-old, he said: “The project here at Tottenham is to try to win the Premier League or the Champions League. For me, that is the two big trophies.
“Ok, I would love to win the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup for our fans. But Tottenham must build a project with the possibility to fight for the Champions League or Premier League - sorry, first of all the Premier League and then the Champions League.
“If we are going to try to win Carabao Cup or FA Cup, and forget the Premier League or Champions League, it’s a big mistake.
“I think what it means for a big team to win trophies is to win the Premier League or Champions League.
“There are a lot of examples. In my second season at Southampton, Wigan won the FA Cup. Where is Wigan today, with all my respect? League One. Look - that is the most important example.
“Of course, I would like to win trophies but first of all we’ll fight for the Premier League or the Champions League.
“For different reasons I will rotate the team. But in the end it’s Tottenham that is going to play, like in different competitions.”
Now as a Spurs fan in his mid-twenties, I would say Pochettino is by far the best manager I have seen take charge of my club.
But I feel he is wrong when he says Tottenham should favour winning the Premier League over the League Cup or FA Cup this season.
It is clear the Spurs boss has no interest in entertaining the Wembley hoodoo talk, yet what is a factor for this team is the fact they are playing at a stadium which doesn’t feel like home.
Every player was well accustomed to life at White Hart Lane and regardless of where Tottenham played this term, it was always going to take time to get used to playing at a different venue.
With that in mind, it should not be a surprise to see Spurs have already dropped more points at Wembley than they did during the whole of last season in N17.
Tottenham form at home during the 2016/17 campaign was astonishing and helped them challenge for the title for the second consecutive year.
Doing it again this time around was always going to be tricky, but Pochettino should not completely forget about Spurs’ league campaign.
He should do everything he can to try and help Tottenham finish in the top four and push their title rivals all the way.
But surely this season is the perfect opportunity for this young team to win their first piece of silverware.
Jose Mourinho used the League Cup during his first spell with Chelsea as a springboard to success.
The Portuguese manager won the tournament in 2005 and it was the start of the Blues winning five major trophies in the space of three years.
The importance Mourinho places on the League Cup is in contract to most of his rival managers, but whenever he has returned to England, it has been the title which has kick-started his latest successful era.
After returning to Chelsea in 2013, the League Cup was the first trophy the Blues won (in a final against Spurs) before going on to seal the title just months later.
Now Mourinho is at Manchester United, he again used the competition to give his squad a first taste of success under his management.
Since the Red Devils won the tournament last March, they have gone on to claim Europa League glory and are now sitting pretty joint-top of the table.
If we go back further in history, Brian Clough is another prime example of a manager using competitions like the League Cup as a springboard to success.
The legendary former Nottingham Forest boss won the tournament in 1978 and just months later led Forest to the First Division title.
He actually used a competition like the Anglo-Scottish Cup – a year earlier – to get that trophy-winning feeling into his squad.
At Derby County, he used tournaments like the Texaco Cup and Watney Cup to give his players a first taste of success and it eventually helped them go on and win bigger and more respectable titles.
When you speak to pundits and former players about Spurs, they all say the same line – this team needs to win something and get over the line in one competition to potentially start a dynasty.
Tottenham have a young, talented squad and what would keep them all happy and help them would be to win any type of significant silverware.
It is admirable that Pochettino is aiming so high with Spurs, but he is wrong to focus on winning the Premier League or Champions League this season over the League Cup or FA Cup.
With Tottenham playing at a venue which doesn’t yet feel like home, they should target a competition like the League Cup.
Most rival clubs don’t take it too seriously and therefore Spurs have an excellent chance of reaching the latter stages if they field strong teams against league rivals.
This squad of players needs more experience when it comes to winning big games and winning in a semi-final and a final of any tournament will help that.
If winning the League Cup was good enough for Clough and is still good enough for Mourinho, then it should be the same for Tottenham too. Pochettino would be wrong to overlook this competition and especially this season.