Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino insists there is no Wembley hoodoo ahead of Chelsea clash at national stadium
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Spurs manager calls on players and supporters to forget about past problems in Brent and enjoy calling Wembley home for the upcoming season
Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham’s players and supporters must put any ideas about a Wembley hoodoo behind them as they prepare to host Chelsea at the national stadium on Sunday.
Spurs have a poor record under the arch, having won just one of their last nine competitive matches there while losing seven times - including three defeats to the Blues.
Last season Pochettino’s side lost three of their five matches at Wembley, while their draw against Belgian outfit Gent eliminated them from the Europa League.
However, they beat Champions League finalists Juventus 2-0 in Brent earlier this month, in their final pre-season friendly, and Pochettino has little time for concerns about a Wembley curse.
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“Wembley is not a problem,” he said. “We are the problem if we don’t play [well] and don’t win, like last season. Please, stop.
“Wembley is the most important place in the world and if we are not capable of winning there, it’s not because of Wembley, it’s because of us. Come on. It’s the most exciting place to play. It’s where football was born.
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“For me, always in Argentina or when I was in Spain, one day to be sitting at Wembley was a big dream. Now I have the possibility to play there every two weeks or maybe sometimes every week, or three games in one week - and it’s a problem? Ah, come on. I love Wembley.
“Last season, we played there in the Champions League and then one game against Gent in the Europa League. That is completely different.
“Before, it was difficult to think of playing at White Hart Lane, then trying to move and playing in the Champions League. I think it was a perfect excuse sometimes for everyone. Now is not an excuse.
“The other week we were talking, and I think St. James’ Park is the same size as Wembley. Many pitches have the same size as Wembley.”
Pochettino continued: “In the moment that we played at Wembley, for different reasons it wasn’t our best period of the season.
“The only thing we’ve done is to create one pitch here at the training ground that is the same size as Wembley to train on. We will not change anything.
“The preparation that we have and will have to play at Wembley will be the same, because I think it’s the perfect preparation.
“I respect every single opinion. But against Juventus we played against one the best teams in Europe and we played really well. We cannot adapt our style on a big pitch or a small pitch. I think it’s not important, the size of the pitch.
“I think for the players it was fantastic to play against Juventus because they realised the problem is not Wembley.
“For everyone who’s going to play there it’s difficult for different reasons. But it will be our home this season, for one year, and we need to make it very strong for our opponents.”
Tottenham are yet to recruit any players as they prepare for their second match of the season, and there are just 13 days of the transfer window left.
The club-record £40million signing of Ajax centre-back Davinson Sanchez appears close, but Pochettino delivered his customary response to questions about that deal: “I never speak about rumours”.
The Argentinian did, however, reveal that he is hoping for four additions to his squad.
Asked about the possibility of bringing in three players, he interjected: “Or four. It’s true, I am honest - I want four players, if it’s possible. But it’s not easy. We need time to work.”
Tottenham are leaving it late to conduct their business – a strategy that might have to change in future if Premier League clubs vote to end their transfer window before the start of the season. But Pochettino admits he is in two minds about the proposal.
“That is a question we need to talk about internally and then decide,” he said. “I think when the rule is for everyone the same, we need to be agreed, and then take a decision. But I don’t know. I really don’t know if it will be good or bad.
“I think when you have more time, maybe you can have better ideas, more possibilities in the period sometimes.
“It’s a discussion we need to have internally and then decide, because I think the vote will be secret. But it’s not a matter that worries me or concerns me a lot.
“I think for me it’s the same, to stop before the start or after. It doesn’t really change too much my vision.”
Pochettino may have Kieran Trippier available for Sunday’s match against Chelsea as the right-back completes his recovery from an ankle injury.
“We need to assess him tomorrow,” said Spurs’ manager. “We have another day of training, then we’ll see if he’s ready for the match.
“We’re very positive, his evolution is good. He’s been doing very well in the last few days. We’ll decide and maybe he has a chance to play Sunday.”
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