Cape Town - Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino angrily accused journalists of disrespecting his players on Tuesday after his team opened their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 loss at Inter Milan.
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Tottenham were winning 1-0 through Christian Eriksen after a performance Pochettino described as probably their best of the season, only for Mauro Icardi to equalise with an unstoppable 25-metre volley with five minutes left before Matías Vecino headed in a stoppage-time winner following a corner.
Pochettino then lost his temper when asked about his decision to rest defenders Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld.
"You disrespect the players that tonight showed better qualities than the opponent," he replied.
"When my decision is to play with 11, you must respect my decision because I am the manager. It’s so painful to hear when some people are not here and you judge in that way.”
"It’s so cruel," Pochettino said. "The team deserved much more and I think that was our best performance since the start of the season. The only way back to winning games is to play in the way we played. It’s not about learning and working on the training ground – you need luck, too, and the right decision at the right moment.
"At 1-0, the result is always open and the problem was we didn’t kill the game. Samir Handanovic was fantastic in goal in some situations. Of course, the home fans were unbelievable after the equaliser and they helped their team to win the game. We need to improve with some situations.
"I understand football and I understand tough periods can arrive. After our win at Manchester United, I said: ‘Be careful.’ And afterwards, a tough period arrived, starting at Watford. The most important thing is to be strong and we are strong. We’ve shown tonight we will be the same as in the past.
"We have quality and I started to see good signs the team is coming back. We showed great personality. We controlled Inter Milan in the San Siro, a difficult place. We showed big character and we were unlucky not to keep the result we deserved."