Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-1 win over AS Roma in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday night, but the win in San Diego papers over a vexing problem for his squad. This summer’s World Cup, combined with the fantastic performances by England, Belgium, and France, mean that nine of Poch’s best players have yet to report back to north London for preseason training.
That, combined with the start of the Premier League season in August and a string of away matches while the new stadium is finished, means that Tottenham are at a disadvantage to begin the 2018-19 campaign. Pochettino noted that in a post-match press conference, but said that Spurs will just have to get through it.
“The players need to rest, the players need a period to recover after more than 10 months’ competition.
“I’m not going to complain about them having that. I completely understand that they need 20 or 21 days to be away from football. But of course that is a massive disadvantage because to prepare the season in that way will be tough for them and us.
“But I need to adapt to what the Premier League propose. We cannot delete the start of the season. We start earlier than other leagues and countries. There’s nothing I can do. I think all the clubs are going to be in a similar condition — some with more problems than others. That is the reality and we cannot change it.”
Poch is right that all Premier League teams are in the same boat, though not many are missing as many key players as Spurs this preseason. Wednesday night’s win in San Diego was without World Cup champion Hugo Lloris, as well as Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Mousa Dembele, nearly all of whom were regular starters for Tottenham last season.
That has allowed Poch to get a better look at players like Lucas Moura, Eric Lamela, and Serge Aurier, all of whom are hoping to turn good performances into additional minutes this season. That’s good! But there’s the chance that Spurs’ World Cup stars could come back with a lack of sharpness, and very little time for Poch to do anything about it before the start of the league campaign.
It’s also a little weird, considering Spurs were one of the clubs that voted in favor of moving the close of the transfer window to before the start of the Premier League season. That might not reflect the personal view of Pochettino, but Tottenham certainly wanted that particular change to happen.
Poch went on to praise Lucas and Llorente, who both scored braces in Wednesday’s win.
“I am focusing on trying to work hard, trying to provide the team and every single player with the best tools to improve. Of course I’m happy when the striker scores and finds the net. Both Lucas Moura and Llorente, I am pleased for them. They are working so hard. It’s a massive opportunity for them to show and fight for a place in the starting XI.”