Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino expects White Hart Lane farewell against Manchester United to be a special day
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Spurs boss acknowledges Sunday’s game will be emotional for players and staff alike
Mauricio Pochettino says the fact Tottenham’s new stadium is being built on the very same soil as White Hart Lane should ease the pain of Sunday’s farewell.
Spurs’ match against Manchester United this weekend will be their last ever at their 118-year-old home, with demolition due to start on Monday.
It is sure to be an emotional occasion but the Lilywhites’ manager says fans should be comforted by the fact that they will be returning to N17 in 15 months’ time.
“I think Sunday will be a special day, first of all for the fans, the staff, the players, everyone who loves Tottenham,” he stated.
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“After three seasons here, I hope or I feel that maybe Sunday will be the most special day [for me] at White Hart Lane.
“Of course we’re sad but the most important thing is to know the heart of White Hart Lane, the soul and the smell, we’ll keep behind.
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“When you knock down the stadium and must move to another area, always it’s so difficult because your habit is always to take the same route, go to the same shops.
“But now you don’t change anything because the new stadium will be at the same place as White Hart Lane. It will be fantastic for our fans.
“You don’t change your habits, only you improve your situation. When you change the area always it’s completely different for your family, for yourself, for the fans, to create the habits.
“Today fans that follow Tottenham and have supported Tottenham for 50 or 60 years, they change nothing. Only they improve their position and will enjoy the new facilities, and that is fantastic for the fans.
“It will be sad on Sunday but it will be exciting too to welcome the new era of Tottenham, the new stadium of course.
“I think it’s our expectation, with the new facilities and stadium, to move to the last level. I’m sure we will try and I think it will be very helpful to reach the last level.”
Pochettino admits he is undecided whether to take a souvenir from White Hart Lane away with him.
“We’ll see. I am a person that never decides many things before, I act with my emotion,” he said. “If I feel something is special and I need to take it and keep it in my house, of course I will do.”
Asked whether he is tempted to grab the manager’s chair, he said: “No, it’s so big. I will have a big problem with my wife!”
There is an element of déjà vu for Pochettino, who played in the last ever game at Espanyol’s Sarria Stadium, which was knocked down in 1997.
“It was tough because it was for different reasons,” he said. “We left the stadium because Espanyol had very big financial problems and needed to sell the stadium and try to cancel all the debt.
“It was sad because it was for reasons that are different to what Tottenham have today.”
There are fears Spurs may struggle to make Wembley feel like home next season, and that their performances might suffer, but Pochettino’s own experience suggests the Lilywhites can still enjoy success after leaving the Lane.
“Espanyol spent 12 years at the Olympic Stadium and we were capable of winning two titles, two Copa Del Reys, in 2000 and 2006,” he said. “It was fantastic. Why not maybe next season win some titles or trophies at Wembley?
“It’s a moment where the club need you – your support, your effort, your best. In that moment, for us as players, I remember always it was about trying to give 200 per cent, not only 100 per cent, because in that moment you feel the club needs you.
“Yes, we created a very special feeling between each other and we felt a unit. We were very strong.”
Tottenham go into Sunday’s clash against United on the back of a 1-0 defeat at West Ham last Friday night, which seemingly ended their Premier League title bid.
Chelsea can secure the crown tonight when they visit West Bromwich Albion, and Pochettino concedes his players needed a few days to get over their loss in east London.
“To be honest, it was difficult,” he said. “We started training on Monday and until Wednesday it was difficult to be happy and to start to focus only on Manchester United because we missed a big, big opportunity to put pressure on Chelsea - not to win the league, but yes, we missed the opportunity to put pressure on them and fight until the end.
“Now it’s in their hands to win the Premier League. To be honest, it’s so difficult now to win [the title] but before West Ham we all believed it was possible.
“After that game there was a big disappointment and of course it was difficult to lift everyone to start to be ready again for Manchester United.
“But we are ok now, we are good, we are focused. We are looking forward to playing, to playing the last game at White Hart Lane. There are many, many reasons to be focused and happy to play on Sunday.”