Mauricio Pochettino was in a testy mood in the immediate aftermath of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Inter Milan in the Champions League this evening. Spurs’ manager, obviously upset after his squad threw away a 1-0 lead in the game’s final 10 minutes, was asked a question about why he left defenders Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier in London instead of bringing them with him to Milan.
Poch instead went on an extended rant about how such a question was his decision and questioning it was disrespectful to the players who were on the pitch.
“I think we need to talk about football. Because, you know I think you force me to say something that is not good. You disrespect the players that today showed better qualities than the opponent.
”Why disrespect the players that aren’t on the pitch? You can blame me and say ‘gaffer, you were so so rubbish in your selection of the starting 11.’
”But please don’t disrespect the players who were playing, because it’s my decision. Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, we have 25 players. And you believe that and sometimes you behave like you ask me with your question, that you can play only 11 and the other 13 or 14 players are rubbish, are s—t...
“It’s so easy, it’s so easy, I don’t know. Sorry, but I am so disappointed because I am a person that respects you a lot and the players. When my decision is to play with 11, you must respect my decision because I am the manager. You cannot disrespect.”
It’s the response from an obviously upset and frustrated manager, and why wouldn’t he be? Spurs played well in the second half and were probably on balance the better side at the San Siro, and to give up two goals like that in the waning minutes of the match must be hugely disappointing. I also get the impulse for a manager to protect his players.
However, it’s still a good question, and the entire situation could’ve been avoided if Pochettino had been a little more forthright with the media in explaining ahead of time why he left Toby and Trippier at home. He called it a “technical decision,” but if the reason was “they’re tired and we need to rotate,” I think everyone would’ve understood.
This is one of the rare times where I’ve seen Pochettino lose his cool after a bad result. It sure seems as though he and the team have some things they need to work out here in the next few weeks.