‘You disrespect players who showed their quality’: Mauricio Pochettino hits back at questions over selection policy and claims defeat by Inter Milan was Tottenham’s best display of the season
Mauricio Pochettino reacted angrily when questioned about the wisdom of leaving two key defenders at home as Tottenham crashed to a third successive defeat.
Inter Milan fought back from behind to score the winner from a corner in stoppage time but the Spurs boss refused to accept he might have been better off with Toby Alderweireld or Kieran Trippier at his disposal.
‘Easy targets,’ fumed Pochettino. ‘It is so easy to talk about the players not here. The same with Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko who are injured. We need to talk about football. I am so disappointed with this question.
Mauricio Pochettino gestures on the touchline during Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat by Inter Milan
‘You disrespect the players who today showed their quality. Why disrespect them? You can blame me and say you were rubbish gaffer with your selection. But don’t blame the people who played.
‘We have 25 players and you can only play 11. Being a player is so difficult. For me it is easier on the touchline. It’s painful for me to hear you killing the people who give their best.’
Christian Eriksen gave Tottenham the lead with a deflected strike from the edge of the penalty area before Mauro Icardi equalised in the 86th minute with a terrific volley and Matias Vecino headed the winner.
‘That was our best performance since start of the season,’ said Pochettino. ‘I am happy with the performance. But disappointed with the result.
‘The result should be different. The performance was better than Inter Milan’s but when you concede after 86 minutes it brings a completely different feeling after the game.
‘It is so difficult to win in the San Siro and play better than Inter and create enough chances to kill the game but we didn’t take them and at 1-0 the game is always open.
‘It’s so cruel. The team deserved much more. It’s a fact we lose. But the only way back to winning games is to play in the way we played.
‘I am happy. We could have won. We need to improve with some situations. We conceded another goal from set pieces. And when you are in a bad period you need to double effort, and work harder. That’s the only way to build good momentum.’
It is the first time Pochettino has lost three games in a row as Spurs manager but he claimed there were signs of improvement.
‘We have quality,’ he added. ‘The only thing is that we are a little bit late in preparation. Today I start to see good signs that the team is coming back. We showed great personality.
‘We controlled Inter Milan in the San Siro, a difficult place, and we showed big character and we were unlucky not to keep the result we deserved. That is my assessment.’