Mauricio Pochettino accepts some Spurs players may want to follow Kyle Walker and look for quick success
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Tottenham are preparing to face “the best team in Europe” on Saturday, but their manager is going to the Etihad to win
The grass is not always greener on the other side, but Kyle Walker is probably feeling fairly content about his decision to swap Tottenham Hotspur for Manchester City in the summer.
The right-back spent eight years in north London – including some loan spells away in the early seasons – but the Lilywhites never won a trophy in that time.
Now he is playing for a team that has just broken the Premier League record for successive victories – 15 top-flight triumphs – and is 11 points clear at the top of the table, while Pep Guardiola’s side are also be a force to be reckoned with in Europe and the domestic cup competitions.
The danger is that other Spurs players will now be casting envious glances at Walker, and considering whether they too would be better off with wealthier clubs – both in terms of their wage packets and their chances of winning silverware.
And, although Pochettino has reiterated that Tottenham are planning for long-term success, he concedes some of his stars might not want to wait, or be able to wait, for those schemes to come to fruition.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Man City, the Argentinian said: “It’s human nature that the players always want to improve, and have different challenges and ideas.
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“But I’m not worried, because in the end it’s always three parts in all the situations in football – the players, the club that owns the players, and another club [that might] want some players. In the end it’s about being agreed on different things and trying to make everyone happy with the decision.
“We’re not worried. We know how our project is and who we are, and in the end we try to develop our project not only thinking about today and tomorrow, but thinking long-term.
“We need to win today, tomorrow and in one, two, three, four years. That is the plan for Tottenham.”
When it was suggested that some players might want success now, Pochettino said: “Exactly, that is the problem. I agree with you.
“Maybe some players are not agreed in this plan and this strategy, and of course they are right to complain, to talk and in the end to want to move or have another challenge for different reasons, because we are all different and we all have different challenges, motivations, roles in our life. That is normal.
“The most important thing is to talk, to design the plan for everyone and then for everyone to be happy, because life is about enjoying and being happy. It’s not about wasting time in a bad way, because life is so short.
“We keep a very good relationship [with Kyle]. It’s always good to see the players that were with you and players that did a lot for the club, or did a lot for myself, to try to help me to achieve all that we wanted.
“It’s good to see him because we’re also people that did a lot for him to try to achieve all that he wanted.”
Spurs are preparing to face a team who have scored 52 goals in their 17 league fixtures so far, but Pochettino has no intention of altering his usual approach and instructing his team to camp in front of their own goal.
“We’re going to play in a way that we believe we can win,” he said. “Every manager thinks when they design their strategy, it’s always the right strategy.
“It doesn’t matter if you put one or another player in with different characteristics in the XI, or play with a different shape. The most important thing is the mentality and the ideas you have, and to try to translate that to the players.
“It’s not that we need to be brave. We need to behave like always, we need to think like always - we can win, we can play, we can enjoy ourselves and develop what we want. Then, of course, it’s about power.
“The opponent tries to do what they want to do, and then it’s about playing and trying to dominate, and playing in the way that sometimes you can.
“First of all, our idea is always to try to dominate, play in the way that we want and try to play in the opposite half - and then it’s football and anything can happen.”
Pochettino continued: “There’s always motivation to play this type of game. It’s the type of game where you don’t need to motivate the players, you don’t need to talk too much.
“You can feel in the atmosphere after the Brighton game that they’re so excited. For me, it’s about enjoying it. You want to be there, you want to feel what happens on the touchline, feel what happens on the pitch.
“We’re going to play, for me, the best team today in Europe, not only in England - because they’re in their best form. It’s so exciting. It’s a massive challenge - the type of challenge you always want the possibility to have.”
Back in October, when Guardiola referred to Tottenham as “the Harry Kane team”, Pochettino reacted angrily, describing the comment as “sad” and “disrespectful”.
Two months on, he feels the issue is in the past.
“I had some conversations with people from their coaching staff,” said Pochettino. “It was a thing that happened in that moment. In the end it’s not an issue, we have a very good relationship.
“I admire Pep - all that he was doing at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now at Manchester City. I think he’s one of the managers I am more close to in football. Now it’s in the past, I forgot everything. I think him too, the same.
“Be sure, we’re going to see each other and say hello. We have a lot of friends in the middle. The respect is the most important thing. I admire and respect him for how he feels about football, his passion for football.
“Of course I wish him and all the people I love there all the best. But we’re going there to win, to try to stop them, and not [only for that] - we need the three points to try to be in the top four and fight for big things at the end of the season.”
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