Pochettino is proud of Spurs’ passion and character but admits: Some players crossed the line at Chelsea
Mauricio Pochettino is proud of Tottenham’s passion and character and is pleased that his side are “not a nice team to play” any more – but he admits his players “crossed the line” against Chelsea and must learn to control themselves better in future.
Nine Spurs men were booked during Monday’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge – a Premier League record – and Mousa Dembele has accepted a charge of violent conduct from the FA.
With Dele Alli already banned for three games for punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob in Tottenham’s previous fixture, Dembele is likely to be banned for more than three matches – although Spurs can challenge the expected increase.
Pochettino said: “If you cross the line, Mousa knows you need to pay, like Dele Alli - but this can happen in football. I think we cannot justify that [but] we can understand it.
“I hear in the last two years always that the people who write books, or the people who speak about the past, say Tottenham are soft – something like this. But now we start to show character.
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“Maybe we crossed the line, I can recognise that, I am not a stupid person. But it’s important to analyse and manage better our energy for the next season. It’s sure we have learned a lot about this game.
“I think we have shown this season that we’re not a nice team to play, not any more. I think our opponents don’t like to play against us because we show passion.
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“Maybe we showed too much passion but we need to take that in a positive way. I think this season we have created a very good feeling, a good energy, between our supporters, our staff and our players. We need to keep this and manage it in a better way next season to try to win titles.
“All that happened on the pitch, for me, needs to stay on the pitch, but you know now that our business is different and we have a lot of cameras and some things happened and it’s impossible to keep [it secret].
“All the people that play football know that sometimes situations like Monday can happen. Maybe we are agreed on the theory but to apply the theory is difficult when you play football and you run and you play to win the title. Then I think it’s difficult sometimes to keep calm.”
Pochettino has revealed that he spoke to Chelsea captain John Terry after the game: “We had a discussion on the pitch during the game and then he came and apologised and nothing happened,” said the head coach. “He’s a big champion, a captain of Chelsea and an international player, a great player.
“When you fight for the Premier League, you want to win and sometimes you feel disappointed, and sometimes you cross the line.
“But I think for us it was a good experience - it was our first experience of fighting to try to win the league and I think there are a lot of things to learn from that. We shook hands, we were very calm after the game, everything was perfect.”
Spurs’ title challenge is now over, leaving them to play for second place in Sunday’s home game against Southampton and then away at Newcastle on the final day.
“I think we have the same motivation to play the next two games,” said Pochettino. “We want to keep the second place in the table and I think nothing has changed for us. “To finish in the top four is fantastic because it was our goal from the beginning of the season. I remember last season I said our goal was to reduce the gap with the top four – we are in the top four.
“Maybe we feel disappointed because it was a good opportunity to win the league, but you know in the way we fight we need to feel proud of our seasons and it’s a very good point to try to fight next season for the same goals.”
Tottenham have the chance to finish above arch-rivals Arsenal for the first time in 21 years but Pochettino said: “I don’t think about that. We have our own challenge, it’s not our principle challenge to be over Arsenal. We want to play well, win trophies and perform well but this is not important for us.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs