Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino warns squad they must suffer and ‘die’ to achieve top-four finish
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Spurs could miss out on Champions League qualification if they fail to win their last two games against Newcastle and Leicester
Mauricio Pochettino says his players need to “die” in the final two matches to ensure Tottenham Hotspur qualify for the Champions League again.
Fourth-placed Spurs lie just two points ahead of Chelsea. And, while they can still finish third, they may need to win both of their remaining games against Newcastle and Leicester this week to secure a seat at Europe’s top table for a third successive season.
“The difference [with the Europa League] is massive,” said Pochettino. “The second [most important] thing is the money, but the first is that playing in the Champions League is the dream of everyone, and for me it’s impossible to think and not give your best when it depends on you to win.
“It’s massive because the Champions League is the best competition, with the Premier League, in the world. It’s in our hands. We need to die to try to achieve that.
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“It’s not a case of ‘we need to play like this, with two centre-backs or two strikers or two keepers’. It’s about the players dying trying to achieve it.
“If we cannot, we cannot. That’s different and we need to analyse why. Now it’s about being all together and fighting, with our fans, and creating a good atmosphere tomorrow and on Sunday and trying to achieve all together to play Champions League football in the new stadium. That will be fantastic.
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“We are in the fight, in the battle for the top four, and it’s fantastic. I’m so excited to fight against Liverpool and Chelsea - big sides, big clubs, and we are there. That was always our dream, to have the possibility to fight with this type of club.”
While Pochettino admits there are financial benefits to playing in the Champions League, he insists chairman Daniel Levy is not relying on the extra income to fund the club’s new stadium.
“I think I explained to you, it was never the idea to play in these [last] four seasons in the Champions League,” he said. “I think Daniel is safe with the money. It’s not a problem.
“The plan, four years ago, wasn’t to play every season in the Champions League to be sure the club is going to survive. If you overachieve, fantastic, you have more money to invest in new facilities like the stadium. But I think it’s not a problem.”
Wednesday’s match against Newcastle will bring back memories of Spurs’ nightmarish end to the 2015/16 campaign, when a 5-1 defeat at St James’ Park on the final day left the Lilywhites with just two points from their last four matches, allowing arch-rivals Arsenal to pip them to second place at the death.
Spurs finished rather more strongly last term, though, beating Manchester United before completing their campaign with emphatic 6-1 and 7-1 victories over Leicester City and Hull City respectively.
“Last season was perfect,” said Pochettino. “Last season was the opposite [of the season before].
“The season we finished at Newcastle was the year of the Euros in France and now the coincidence is it’s the World Cup.
“But we’re focused to make sure we’re capable of winning the last two games and being in the top four. It’ll be a massive success for the club and the team to finish third.”
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