Mauricio Pochettino’s ultimate goal for Spurs is to win the Champions League or Premier League
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Tottenham boss believes the club would be wrong to place greater importance on winning the League Cup or FA Cup over Premier League success
Mauricio Pochettino says his ultimate goal is to win the Premier League or Champions League at Tottenham and admits he will use tomorrow’s League Cup tie against Barnsley to give squad men game time.
Spurs’ last trophy was the League Cup in 2008, and they have since gone closest to ending their barren spell in the same competition, losing the final in 2009 and 2015. However, Pochettino has loftier aims. “The project here at Tottenham is to try to win the Premier League or the Champions League,” he said. “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.
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“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.
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“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.”
Pochettino continued: “You will see tomorrow we will put on the pitch players that can play in the Champions League, the Premier League or the FA Cup.
“When you have a squad you need to provide all the players with a facility to play, and tomorrow is a big opportunity to do that. If not, when?
“We’re always talking about the squad, signing players and having more alternatives, and if [we don’t play them], we are so contradictory.
“Everyone – the fans, the media – say ‘oh we need to sign more players because we need a bigger squad to try to be involved in four competitions’. Now if the manager rotates or gives the facility to play players who maybe don’t play too much, it’s ‘why? It’s a gamble’. Come on.
“I think the important thing tomorrow is to try to win first of all, and we want to win. I’m the first that wants to win. But it’s a good possibility for some players to play, because we believe in everyone. Then you decide to select some player or another. Maybe I will surprise you with the team selection.”
Unusually, Pochettino has delivered a number of clues about his line-up and the make-up of his 18-man squad – probably underlining his relative lack of interest in the League Cup.
Asked about Fernando Llorente, the Argentinian said: “Maybe he is going to play tomorrow, maybe he’s going to play in the starting XI. It was a difficult pre-season for him as he broke his arm and he needs to play to be fit.”
He later stated: “GK [Nkoudou] will be involved in the 18 players for tomorrow. It’s now been five days that been he’s with the group training (after his foot injury) – nearly a week. Maybe he will have the facility to play a little bit.
“Harry Winks is much better. He’s better every day (as he recovers from April’s ankle ligament injury) and maybe he has the facility to play in the starting XI.”
Asked whether he might give opportunities to any academy players, Pochettino replied: “Maybe, yes. Maybe players like Tashan [Oakley-Boothe] will have the facility to play because he will be involved in the squad tomorrow.”
This time last year, in the third round of the League Cup, Pochettino introduced prodigious attacking midfielder Marcus Edwards off the bench, giving him his first-team debut shortly after comparing him to a young Lionel Messi.
But, one year on, that remains the 18-year-old’s only taste of senior action – and he is being overlooked again tomorrow.
“No, Marcus will not be involved tomorrow in the first team,” said Pochettino. “Last season was difficult for him. Remember he was injured and then he had an operation and I think it was a tough season for him.
“He dropped a little bit, but it’s normal after nearly one season that he didn’t play. Now he’s building his confidence again. We’re so happy because he played very well against Manchester United [in the Under-23 League] and then in the Youth Cup he was very good.
“But I think we need to wait a little bit for him to build more his physical condition and his confidence. He’s better playing in the Under-23s or the Youth Cup than staying with us, maybe on the bench.
“I think it’s a situation we have under control and we are looking after him to try to again have the facility to be involved with the first team. But it’s step by step.”
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