Spurs boss highlights the importance of mental respite as he prepares to make changes in FA Cup

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Mauricio Pochettino says it is important that Tottenham’s senior players get mental respite as well as physical recuperation time as he prepares to make changes for Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Aston Villa.

While a number of European leagues have winter breaks, Spurs and their Premier League rivals have been playing throughout the festive period – and the Lilywhites have just played three times in the space of eight days.

They ended that sequence with a stunning 2-0 home win over Chelsea, but Pochettino is aware that his top men need time to rest their minds as well as their bodies.

“I think it’s key, that [mental] area is key for me,” he said. “The Premier League is not only tough because of the physical demands, which is massive, but mental too.

“I think you can see plenty of pictures of [players from] different leagues in Europe in swimming pools, on the beach and with their families, relaxing - but our players were training, playing and going to bed early at night.

“I think that’s very tough because they’re very young and they need to enjoy life. Maybe it’s different to us. We are older and we enjoy when we’re in bed but they need to enjoy life. They’re young and have a lot of energy and they believe their life stops in a few years.

“We know very well that your life maybe starts after your career, but it’s too difficult to translate that feeling. That’s why it’s sometimes not only physical rest but mental that they need and they need to relax. If not they can maybe one day explode.”

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Pochettino continued: “Of course it’s an important game for us [on Sunday] in an important competition, the FA Cup. Maybe it’s a good opportunity for us after a very busy period over Christmas to give some chances to some players that have maybe not played regularly.

“But we need to find a way to try to be competitive because we play again against a very good team in Aston Villa and we want to go further in that competition too.

“But we need to assess the players after this period and try to take the best decisions to try to help the players and the team and try to achieve big things - and one of the big things is to try to win Sunday’s game and go to the next stage of the FA Cup.

“I don’t know how many changes there will be. Not 11, but we cannot today have a clear idea. Tomorrow, sure, because we need to measure the levels of all the players properly – not only physically but mentally. Some players maybe need rest. We will mix maybe a little bit the starting XI from Chelsea with some players.”

Tottenham have a proud record in the FA Cup, having won the competition on eight occasions. But their latest triumph was back in 1991 and they have not reached the final four since 2012.

“We played the final against Chelsea two years ago in the Capital One Cup,” Pochettino pointed out. “But yes, I would like to go further, and the players too and the club of course - they have a tradition in the cups.

“It’s true we’ve struggled a little bit for different reasons. We will see, maybe this season is a good opportunity to go further in the FA Cup.

“Sometimes it’s about luck, it’s about draws, but it’s in our minds to go further in the Premier League and Europa League and of course the FA Cup too.

“I think we have a very strong squad and it’s a moment where [some] players work very hard and don’t have the facility to play. Maybe we will make some changes but that doesn’t mean the competition isn’t important for us.

“I think we need to start to think that if some players play it’s an important competition, and if they don’t play it’s still the same.

“I think if Tottenham play it’s an important competition and we need to trust in all our players because in the end, for me, football is about the collective and trying to all be important and feeling part of the success and failure too.

“That’s why it’s important to give the team a balance over the 10 months that we’re involved in all competitions, and to show that all the periods are important.

“Of course some players play more than others but if they are at Tottenham it’s because they are a good player and can play in every game and can play in different competitions too.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs