Pochettino was happy for Kevin Friend to referee Tottenham’s match at Stoke

Mauricio Pochettino says he had no issue with Kevin Friend being appointed as the official for Tottenham’s next game at Stoke City, even though the referee supports Spurs’ title rivals Leicester City.

Friend was initially due to be in charge for Monday’s game at the Britannia Stadium but, due to pressure on social media, Premier Game Match Officials Ltd have given the clash to Neil Swarbrick instead, stating: “Given the timing and context of this match, it was felt unnecessary to add extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said this morning he was “surprised and disappointed” by that decision, stating it “questions the integrity of the referee and sets a dangerous precedent”.

Pochettino said: “We never complain and I want to say we trust in all the referees. The decision maybe is difficult to understand for all the people, but it wasn’t our decision.

“If Kevin was the referee on Monday I was happy, it is not a problem, but sometimes this type of situation happens - but I trust in all the referees.

“It is difficult for me because I have not managed very well the language and I don’t want to make a mistake if I speak too much - but in some points I agree with Arsene. It is important to keep the integrity of the ref and always back the referee.

“They are human and can make mistakes, like us, but it is important for the next time to behave naturally and to show the referee the trust and respect - and then whatever happens in the game, on the pitch, we are human and can make mistakes, and not because something is behind [it].”

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