We heard a little bit from Mauricio Pochettino in the immediate aftermath of Tottenham’s 2-1 loss to Monaco in the Champions League this past Wednesday. His initial comments were of disappointment, but not disillusionment, despite dropping the match to a well-structured Monaco side that scored twice on its only two shots on target.
Pochettino expounded on those first comments in a press conference as reported by journo Ben Pearce in the Hampstead & Highgate Express today. And like the leader that he is, he put the weight of Spurs’ loss at Wembley on his own shoulders.
“If you give [Monaco] the presents we gave them, it’s impossible to come back again and get a result. There’s no excuse – the problem wasn’t Wembley or the pitch. We were the problem and we need to be very critical with ourselves.
“I look at myself too. Maybe I didn’t know how to get the motivation [across] to play on Wednesday night in the Champions League. Maybe I put myself in question too. We share responsibility but we cannot repeat it. You can lose, not play well but never concede two goals how we conceded. It was a collective problem, not an individual problem. I was the first guilty one in this situation.
“When we wait six years, many times, to play in the Champions League, after 45 minutes you can’t go to the changing room with this feeling. We had 90,000 people in front of us, waiting for us to play in the Champions League. The atmosphere was amazing. We nearly cried before, when you hear the song from the Champions League, it’s a dream come true. That was difficult.”
This is one reason why I still love Mauricio Pochettino. Great leaders take the heat for the entire team when things go wrong. It’d be tempting for him to throw up his hands (like we did) and say Welp! Unlucky loss, it sucks, but we weren’t terrible and we’ll be better next time. That’s not what he did here.
It’s obvious the level of emotional investment he has in this Tottenham Hotspur side, and while he doesn’t always show it outwardly or in post match interviews, you occasionally catch glimpses of it when he speaks in depth. This was one of those times, and it was neat to peek through that window into his psyche.
Pochettino also admitted that he is likely to rotate the squad for the Sunderland match after a difficult week.
“It’s true that after Wednesday I am thinking about rotating the team a bit, the starting XI. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when we assess all the players and take the best decision for the team.
“It was collective [on Wednesday] and it’s not focusing on some players. All season it’s difficult to play and when you play in the Champions League you expend a lot of energy. Maybe that, for us, is new - to handle playing Wednesday and Saturday or Sunday.
“In the last two seasons we always rotated the squad a lot when we played in the middle of the week in the Europa League. It is a new experience for us to learn and try to get a good result.”
What that rotation will look like is anyone’s guess. With Danny Rose still injured, I suspect we’ll see Ben Davies start on Sunday with him rested against Gillingham. Victor Wanyama, Kieran Trippier, and Vincent Janssen might also make starts, and we could see Moussa Sissoko replace someone like Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen in the forward attacking band. Expect Hugo Lloris to play because he’s Hugo and he plays if he’s not dead.