Spurs boss: The players would all deserve statues if we win the title
Mauricio Pochettino says his players would all deserve statues if Tottenham manage to “change the story” and ruin Leicester City’s fairytale by beating them to the title.
Leicester are bidding to complete what would probably be the biggest upset in sporting history, having been 5,000-1 outsiders to win the Premier League crown at the start of the season.
Football fans around the world are willing the Foxes on – and, although their 2-2 draw against West Ham on Sunday has given their rivals renewed hope, they are still eight points clear of second-placed Spurs, who must respond when they play their game in hand away at Stoke City on Monday night.
Pochettino is aware that the public support is with Leicester, but he believes the Lilywhites’ heroism would also be recognised if they can stage a comeback and seize the trophy.
“I think [the goodwill towards Leicester] is good, they deserve it,” said Spurs’ head coach. “We cannot fight against all that happens around Leicester. We need to fight against them, and against us and our opponents, and it’s a very good challenge.
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“We know that all the people want Leicester to be champions but we need to believe that we can change the story.
“If we won the championship I think that every player would deserve a statue. The challenge is big because it’s a big gap, but to keep fighting in the way that we have fought and in the end win the title, all the people would recognise our value - and we would be happy too.”
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While Tottenham have cleared two big hurdles after facing Liverpool and Manchester United in their last two games, their next challenge at the Britannia Stadium is by no means an easy one – after all, Pochettino is yet to mastermind a victory over Stoke in six attempts during his time in England.
“No, I haven’t [won yet], with Southampton and Tottenham,” said the Argentine. “But it’s like Manchester United - we hadn’t beaten them at home for 15 years and we did it last Sunday. Maybe I change the history against Stoke.”
Spurs lost both of their clashes with Mark Hughes’ Potters last season - including a humbling 3-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium - and they then threw away a 2-0 lead in the final 12 minutes at White Hart Lane in the second game of this campaign, ending up with a disappointing 2-2 draw.
“It’s true they were very frustrating moments for us, they were tough,” said Pochettino. “But in football, always you look to another opportunity to win or to fix that and we have in front of us a very good opportunity to try to win, and fight for big things - to be in the race for the title.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has sidestepped speculation that he is interested in bringing Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta to Tottenham as a coach.
“I love him and he loves me,” said the Spurs boss. “You know our history from Paris Saint-Germain, when he was 17 and I was the captain. We have a very good relationship. But the thing is rumours and you know I never speak about rumours.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs