Spurs boss: Managers are in a no-win situation when players return from summer tournaments
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says Premier League managers are in an impossible position when it comes to their early team selections after international summer tournaments.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was captaining France in the Euro 2016 final on July 10 and, along with the Lilywhites’ other senior stars that appeared at the tournament, he missed most of the club’s pre-season programme, only playing for the second half in the final friendly against Inter Milan on August 5.
Lloris then limped out of Spurs’ first competitive game against Everton on Saturday with a hamstring injury which is expected to rule him out for a month.
Critics will suggest the skipper could have been given longer to recover after the Euros and been rested at the weekend.
However, Pochettino says it is similarly risky to overlook an important player who can help to win a match – and he feels that he and his fellow managers are in a no-win situation.
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“The solution would be better if we discuss how our bosses manage football because we need to be like we are in the circus, juggling,” he said.
“All the pressure is on the managers, always. If you put in a player who didn’t get a holiday, and he gets injured, it’s your fault. If you give them rest and he doesn’t play, and doesn’t go [on a trip] for the commercial side, you are guilty. Always it’s the manager’s fault, always, always.
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“The problem is the organisation of the competition. You cannot play the Euros and start [the Premier League] on August 13. How can you give rest to the players, after the whole season?
“You are in competition for 12 months, or 11 and a half months - and the players, because you pay them good salaries, don’t deserve their holidays? Come on. What about the families? The sons? The kids? They are not machines.
“Then all the responsibility is on the coaching staff. If you put the player in, and he gets injured, it is because you need to give him rest. If you don’t play him, and you lose the game, [they say] you had the international players and did not use them! Always it is the same.
“The problem is that in football, the managers and players need to make the decisions about the competitions. But sometimes the decisions are always from the people who never play football.
“I agree with Maradona sometimes when he complains about football: the people who take the decisions about football are people who never touch the football - and that is the problem.
“But it is difficult to change because in between business, football, sports, there are many things that happen - and as we always say, football is not an ordinary business.”
Pochettino continued: “We try to avoid [injuries] but to find the balance always is difficult.
“If you give rest in training and say ‘I don’t want to use this player that was involved in the Euros’ and you have no positive results, then the media, the supporters and the board and the president kill me. There is nothing to win, always lose. If you don’t win the game, you are guilty. “Our players are athletes, special athletes. They need pre-season, they need to train properly, they need to rest, they need good food. It’s impossible to compete when the amount of competitions is very high.
“To be ready to compete they need time. It is not only that if you pay good money, they must be ready. Like Harry Kane - no holiday, no holiday, no holiday. He plays in the Under-21 [European Championship last summer] and then he plays in the Euros. He is not a machine.
“It is important to be clear when the time is to compete and time to rest. In the NBA and NFL in America, there are four months of competition and then holidays – and they receive more money than our players.
“Come on – it’s a business, true, but respect the people, the athletes. Every four years you compete in the Olympic Games. In football, every three days it’s ‘Come on, give your best’ and ‘Give your best’ and ‘Give your best’.
“That’s very difficult. That’s why it’s important to organise the competition better in the future - but sometimes you’re speaking for the sake of it because who listens?”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs