Mauricio Pochettino backing Spurs to cope without Harry Kane at Manchester United
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
The Argentine also explains why he decided to do a book about his management titled ‘Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs’
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane will miss tomorrow’s heavyweight showdown with Manchester United due to a hamstring strain, as the Premier League’s second and third-placed teams go head to head at Old Trafford.
The striker seemed to be feeling his hamstring when he was substituted late on against Liverpool on Sunday. And, although Mauricio Pochettino stated at the time that he was just “a little bit tired” and “it will not be a problem”, he has now announced that the 24-year-old is out of action.
“It’s a minor injury, very small, but we cannot take a risk for tomorrow,” said the Lilywhites manager. “We’ll see after about Real Madrid [on Wednesday], but for tomorrow it’s impossible.
“Always you want to have all the players available. Always it’s a problem – to play them more or less. But like always we believe in the collective, in the squad.
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“I told you the players are not machines and it’s so difficult to cope with international duty, playing every three days. It’s lucky because it’s not a big problem, it’s only a small issue, but he’s not going to play tomorrow.
“There’s no sense to take a risk and make bigger a problem that at the moment is small and we can maybe fix in a few days.
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“We are thinking [about the tactics] because today is the second day after the West Ham game. I think we need to wait until tomorrow to decide a formation. It’s not a problem because we can use one or another, with different formations.
“It’s a situation we worked a lot on during pre-season and the players have the capacity to adapt to one shape or another, but first we need to assess the players and then try to take the best decision and be competitive.
“Manchester United played one day before us, against Swansea. They have an advantage of one day’s extra rest and time to prepare the game, and we are on the limit.”
Spurs now have a chance to prove they are not the “Harry Kane team”, as Pep Guardiola memorably suggested recently - and Pochettino has pointed out his side had a good record in their two spells without their hitman last term.
They were unbeaten in their eight league games when he was missing, while scoring 17 goals across five matches when he was sidelined in March and April.
“We don’t need to prove to ourselves that we are Tottenham,” said Pochettino. “Maybe many people expect that [we’ll struggle], but for us, no. Last season in the period when he was injured you can see the stats or the games that we played.
“Of course I’m disappointed because Harry is our main striker and I think he’s one of the best players not only at Tottenham but in Europe or the world – one of the best strikers - and always you’re going to miss your best striker. I’m not silly or stupid.
“But that is football and sometimes, like always I say to you, they are not machines and the players always want to play.”
Pochettino feels Kane’s injury will show the striker, as well as fans and members of the media, the importance of resting him at times.
It seemed he was aware of a conversation between Alan Shearer and Ian Wright on an episode of Match Of The Day last month, when the former strikers agreed they would have been disappointed to be substituted at Huddersfield while chasing a hat-trick, having scored twice – as Kane was when he was taken off in the 87th minute of September’s 4-0 victory.
“If the manager rests some players, the first create to create the problem is you, to translate to the fans,” said Spurs’ manager. “The fans complain ‘why not play this?’ and the players are excited: ‘Why not play me gaffer? Because I want to score, I want to do this and that’.
“But they are not machines, and in the end you must learn suffering. Now he’s suffering.
“I don’t read it but all the information arrives to me. A few games ago, 10 minutes before the end at Huddersfield, it was 4-0 and [we said to Harry] ‘you must rest because you are going to play two games on international duty’.
“[He said] ‘ah gaffer, why don’t I play for the last 10 minutes? Because I scored twice and I could have had three’. I said ‘yes but you must rest, you’re not a machine’.
“Then some people say ‘oh, if I was Harry Kane I’d be going to see the gaffer and complaining because I could have had three, I’m competing with Lukaku and Aguero…’, to add more pressure to the player.
“It’s in my book, explaining how difficult it is to make everyone happy, and every opinion. Then when things happen like now, who suffers? It’s the player, the team and us, because we’re going to miss one of our best players.
“But that’s our job and I don’t complain about that. I’m so happy and enjoying it. Carpe diem.”
The book he is referring to, ‘Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs’, was released yesterday and includes a section where the Argentinian voices his irritation at seeing Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho chatting and joking with Eric Dier following Tottenham’s 1-0 loss at Old Trafford last December. United went on to attempt to sign the midfielder in the summer. Pochettino was unwilling to go back over the incident when quizzed about it today, however.
“That I think is a thing that is in the past, and I was honest. That’s in the book,” said Pochettino. “My relationship with [Jose] is very good, we are in contact.
“That only describes one small situation that is not for putting in the headlines of the newspapers, because there’s nothing wrong. Only I described a situation that happened in the past, but it’s not an issue.
“I don’t like to speak about my book because it’s in the past and we wrote the book in different circumstances to today - that happened a year ago.
“The book only tries to show how our job is, how difficult it is for every manager. The intention is it’s a book that can help a lot of people to understand a bit more how our lives are. The intention is not to give you headlines and cause problems between people, between Mourinho and me.
“You can read in my book too how he is for me one of the best managers in the world and that I admire the most, like [Pep] Guardiola. At some points [it] describes some situations where sometimes I can upset some people too. I’m not a perfect person, I’m human too.”
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