Premier League football is back, and so are the pre-match press conferences. Mauricio Pochettino met with the media today ahead of Spurs hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday, with the questions ranging from the international break injury to Giovani Lo Celso, to Spurs slowly recovering squad.
But by far the most interesting answer Poch gave was about Christian Eriksen. Asked about how the player, who tried to engineer a transfer away from Spurs this summer, is reintegrating into the team, Pochettino said that things were fine, and that Eriksen’s desire to leave for Real Madrid has not affected his role in the team.
“He’s happy. He was always happy. He never said he wasn’t happy here. Everyone has aims, goals, challenges. I told you before the Arsenal game he was in his right mind and that’s why I played him.
There are still plenty of questions surrounding Eriksen as he is now in the final year of his Spurs contract, and those questions aren’t going anyway anytime soon. But Pochettino tried to defuse some of the chaos that swirled around the end of the European transfer window, suggesting that his absences from the starting lineup were due to tactical decisions and not due to any beef he might have with the Danish international.
”He’s an important player for us. In our sixth season, we appreciate him a lot. His qualities are important for the team. He’s happy and we believe he deserves to play. It’s not because he has one year on his contract we’re going to take a different decision. It’s all about performance.
”I explained why every situation was completely different. There were a lot of situations we needed to sort before the end of the transfer window and his was one case. If he didn’t perform the way we expect, sometimes we play with another. But before Arsenal we felt he was in the right place to compete.”
Pochettino also said that he had a one-hour meeting with his team this morning to realign the team’s goals and mindset after the international break.
“It was so important to be refocused. The conversation today was with the squad all together, as we are going to have until January, when the rumours will appear again.
“It was very good to talk today for nearly one hour and refocus again on our objectives. To be clear in our minds, to think that the most important is the collective and start to put outside individual situations, all together again and try to create a dynamic and be strong and starting winning games. That’s the most important thing for us now.”
The narrative surrounding the opening parts of Tottenham’s season has been one of underachievement and fractured team unity, despite securing important away draws against Manchester City and Arsenal. A solid win at home against a Crystal Palace team that’s currently fourth in the table but predicted to struggle this season would go a long way in helping dispel that narrative.