Mauricio Pochettino praises Real Madrid legend Raul after visit to Tottenham Hotspur training ground this week
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The Spurs manager discussed the visit of Raul, the challenge facing his players at West Brom and gave some advice to Steven Gerrard
Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham Hotspur’s senior and academy players all benefited when Raul visited the club’s training ground this week.
The 40-year-old former Spain international, who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid in addition to six La Liga titles, was in Enfield on Thursday as part of his coaching course.
“It was a very good impact,” said Pochettino. “Everyone here, not only in Tottenham but around the world, you admire a legend like Raul - all that he means as a player but as a professional too.
“It was fantastic to share with him the whole day yesterday, and say thank you to him, because to choose Tottenham and try to learn and see how we work, that’s massive praise for us.
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“I want to say thank you too because he was open to meeting our younger players too. It was fantastic, 45 minutes talking about his career, giving advice to the younger players. Of course our captains, Hugo [Lloris] and Harry [Kane], met him yesterday.
“It was a fantastic day for us, to see how humble he is - a player like him who is a legend. He shared a lunch with us afterwards and all the players were saying hello, and then there was the possibility to train with us. It was amazing for everyone.”
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Fourth-placed Spurs travel to face Premier League basement boys West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, and Pochettino continued: “Of course [a visit like that] always it changes the energy, but our challenge is to be in the top four. That visit helped us a little bit but tomorrow we need to be ready to fight. The battle will be massive.
“West Brom have been showing great character in their last few games, having the capacity to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and draw with Liverpool.
“The team has more freedom, they show massive belief in every game. That is the most important thing – that we are going to face a team that believes, that fights, that isn’t giving up and still believes they can survive.
“Of course it will be complicated for them but they still believe. It will be a massive battle for them, but also for us because we’re playing to be in the Champions League next season.”
Pochettino feels his players are in a better place mentally than a week ago, when they were still recovering from their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United and waiting to face Watford.
“It was too difficult to manage that week,” said the Argentinian. “It was a long week until we played again on Monday. It wasn’t an easy week.
“But of course when you win, after Monday, you forget what happened the week before. I think this week was much better, the atmosphere is better. The players feel they have more energy and it’s changed the dynamic, the victory.”
Spurs will be without Harry Winks (ankle) once again at The Hawthorns, while his fellow central midfielder Mousa Dembele was being assessed after Friday’s training session.
“It’s not clear whether he (Dembele) will be fit or not,” said Pochettino. “He twisted his ankle. It’s not a big issue but it’s so close from Monday’s game.
“If it’s not possible tomorrow then for sure he’ll be available for Wednesday [against Newcastle] and the weekend.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has offered some advice to former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who is set to take on his first senior managerial reign with Glasgow Rangers.
“First of all [the hardest thing] it is to translate your ideas and convince the players to follow you – and not only the players,” said the Spurs boss. “The staff, everyone, needs to believe in you. That is the hardest job, and of course you need some luck too, and then enjoy it of course.
“Steven was an amazing, great player and it’s sure he has the experience to manage. I wish him all the best because it will be fantastic for football to have him as a manager and one day to challenge him.”
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