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Pochettino softens stance on reserve players performances: “It’s not about names”

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How much faith does Mauricio have in our fringe players?

Tottenham Hotspur v Wycombe Wanderers - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Spurs’ victory over Wycombe in the FA Cup this past weekend was a lot of things. It was dramatic, it was absurd, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men needed 4 goals in the second half to comeback and defeat the League 2 club 4-3. With another game looming on Tuesday against Sunderland, Spurs lined-up against Wycombe with a heavily rotated side.

After the match, Poch spoke quite bluntly about fringe players still needing to impress. The Argentinian had claimed that “If you cannot play in this type of game, we will have a problem.”

But more quotes have come out from the Tottenham gaffer in the aftermath of the Wycombe game. These quotes (presented here by ESPNFC) seem to be a bit more understanding.

"It is important that they need to feel that we trust them. It's not that we only trust 10 or 11 players because always if you want to win titles, if you want to be in the history of football, it is not only 11 players or 14 or 16.

It is about 20, 22, 25 players. We are building a really good squad to try to go far in every competition. The important thing is we are in the next round. It is important for them to realize that we need to work more and try to be motivated.

The first half was very difficult. We need to assess why, to analyse. It was the 11 players -- it is not only one or another. I wasn't upset -- they were better and we need to change that. We need to change that feeling and play a different way. It was not a good performance from the beginning but in the second half we scored four goals. The team showed their character again, like at Manchester City in the second half.”

Pochettino has occasionally faced criticism during his time at Spurs for his methods of rotation. In the disappointing Champions League campaign, he may have rotated too much. In the collapse at the end of last season, he may not have rotated enough.

But this speaks about the level of trust he has in the squad this year, when compared to the squad of last season. He recognizes that he needs to be able to trust more than just the players in the starting lineup. That’s the squad we are still building to.

Mauricio was clearly unhappy with a lot of the performance against Wycombe, but he’s also proud of the mentality it took to comeback and still advance in the Cup.

“We played with the same team against Aston Villa and they are a Championship club. They played with their best players and we played very well. It is not about names. It is not about names.

If you play against Wycombe, a League Two club, it is difficult because of their motivation and excitement is massive. But when you sign a player for your squad you need to be available to play and have enough quality to play in this type of game.

It is difficult when you have not played too much and not played regularly and you need to play and must win because it is a different level. To turn the result and win 4-3 at the end, playing 30 minutes with 10 players on the pitch, we need to recognize and be positive with the players.”

It’s good to see Pochettino give credit to Wycombe on the day. Yes they fouled a lot, but they still played very well and executed their game-plan almost to perfection. They were motivated for one of the biggest games of their lives, and thus, they didn’t play like a League 2 team.

But even when they went up 3-2, and it looked like they’d pulled off the unthinkable, the players still had the character to respond and win.

Poch also seems to have reasonable expectations of players who haven’t played a lot together. He wouldn’t have expected fringe players like Cameron Carter-Vickers or Georges-Kevin N’koudou to come seamlessly into a team they have barely appeared in.

He’s a reasonable manager, which is something we should never take for granted. Look at all the teams out there with complete head-cases as their head coach. We had one not too long ago, remember?