EPL

Pochettino feels Spurs' thrashing of Palace proves squad had lost focus

By Sports Desk September 14, 2019

Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham's 4-0 thumping of Crystal Palace was proof his squad were previously "unsettled".

Spurs made an unconvincing start to the season prior to the international break but put on a show at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Son Heung-min scored twice, either side of an own goal from Patrick van Aanholt, and Erik Lamela rounded off the rout before the break.

Pochettino issued a rallying cry to his team when addressing the media earlier this week, after close-season disruption that saw Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama, Serge Aurier and Danny Rose all linked with moves and rumblings over the futures of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.

However, the European transfer window passed with none of the supposed wantaway stars leaving and Pochettino showed a hint of frustration, while expressing relief the focus is now on the pitch.

"I think it [thrashing Palace] showed that the team was unsettled [before]. When the team is unsettled, when the squad is unsettled, it is so difficult to perform in the way you want to perform," Pochettino said. 

"I'm not complaining or blaming anyone. The focus wasn't on playing football and it wasn't on trying to improve. The focus wasn't on the places we wanted it and it's not easy to perform that way.

"Of course we have quality, enough to win games without focus, but when you are focused it showed, in that first half the performance of the team ... the intensity, the concentration.

"We know what we need to do and when you are able to do that, the quality we have appears. We have tremendous quality in our squad, unbelievable players. If we show that intensity in all our games, for sure we are going to fight for big things."

Aurier has struggled to nail down a starting spot since arriving from Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017 and only made his first start of the campaign against Palace despite the sale of fellow right-back Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid.

The Ivory Coast full-back impressed against the Eagles, but Pochettino says it is on Aurier and his team-mates to show more consistency.

"He's very happy, we were very happy too, I think the performance was great. First half was fantastic, his concentration and focus," Pochettino added.

"Now he needs to show and be consistent. It's not only one game and the second game the focus and intensity start to drop.

"That is the key in our team, not only him but all the players. All the players need to be consistent and understand that every time we are going to compete we have to give our best. Give like a collective our best and for sure we have the quality to beat any team."

Opposition boss Roy Hodgson admitted his Palace side were simply outplayed in north London and had no qualms about the result.

"Son's performance was outstanding in that first half and it was quite interesting that in the last seconds of the game he was the one sprinting back to try to tackle and stop us scoring at 4-0 up," Hodgson said.

"Technically they were very good today and the quality of the passing from their two centre-backs was outstanding, but they probably won't get the credit for that because centre-backs don't.

"We were well beaten that's for sure, I thought they started so well and with such an incredible tempo that we couldn't deal with it."

Related items

  • Messi to Napoli? You can never say never in football – Pique Messi to Napoli? You can never say never in football – Pique

    Gerard Pique believes it is possible Lionel Messi could one day play for Napoli, but the Barcelona defender hopes the superstar retires at the LaLiga giants.

    Messi and Barcelona face Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

    It has led to fresh comparisons between Messi and Diego Maradona, an Argentina great who starred at Napoli.

    Asked if Messi could emulate Maradona and sign for Napoli, Pique told a news conference: "You can never say never in football, but I guess that is complicated.

    "You should ask him as he decides his future. I would like him to retire with us. I can't tell you more."

    Messi has scored 23 goals in 28 games in all competitions for Barcelona this season.

  • Maradona is divine for Neapolitans – Insigne won't compare Messi and Napoli great Maradona is divine for Neapolitans – Insigne won't compare Messi and Napoli great

    Lorenzo Insigne had no interest in comparing Lionel Messi to Diego Maradona ahead of Napoli's clash with Barcelona, saying the latter was "divine for Neapolitans".

    Messi and Barcelona make the trip to the Stadio San Paolo, where Maradona starred as a player in the 1980s and '90s, for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

    Like Maradona, Messi is considered among the best players of all-time, but Insigne preferred not to compare the Argentine duo.

    "I had an interview and I said Messi is the best player in the world," he told a news conference.

    "However, I do not want to compare him with Maradona, who is everything for us. I do not want to compare him.

    "Maradona is divine for Neapolitans, with all respect for Messi who is the best right now."

    Despite some off-field issues, Barca are top of LaLiga and will go into the last-16 tie as favourites.

    But Insigne said Napoli simply needed to focus on themselves heading into the first leg.

    "I do not know what kind of problem Barcelona have got. I read some things as other people did," he said.

    "I think after four goals scored by Messi against Eibar ... they have no problems.

    "We do not have to think about them. We have to think about ourselves. They have to play a great game from the beginning until the end. That's it."

  • Pique calls for Barcelona focus amid social media controversy Pique calls for Barcelona focus amid social media controversy

    Gerard Pique told Barcelona to remain undistracted ahead of facing Napoli amid the social media controversy at the club.

    Barca earlier this month denied allegations made by Spanish radio network Cadena SER that they hired a company to damage the image of people associated with the club by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

    But Pique is keen to ensure his team are focused ahead of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Naples.

    "We just try to be focused on our task as for this club in the last few years it has been massive what happens on the pitch," he told a news conference.

    "Just the results have been holding back the entire club, so we know how important it is [to get results].

    "The responsibility we have as Barcelona players to try to keep winning on the pitch. If not, there will be troubled water."

    Despite the off-field controversy, Barca are two points clear atop LaLiga and go into their tie with Napoli as favourites.

    But Pique warned his team the Serie A giants would lift for the last-16 tie.

    "It is the first time Barca comes to Napoli to play at such a historic stadium. A football player always want to live new experiences, so coming here is one of them," he said.

    "Regarding Napoli, they have improved a lot lately. They did not start well this season but have improved a lot lately. It will be a very difficult one.

    "They have beaten Juventus and they beat Liverpool at the group stage. They raise their level against the big teams, so we will have to be very concentrated in order not to get badly surprised."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.