London - Mauricio Pochettino
stubbornly insists winning a trophy is not the priority for Tottenham
but he is playing a risky game as he focuses on finishing in the top
four in the Premier League.
Spurs lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace in
the FA Cup on Sunday, just three days after they fell to Chelsea on
penalties in the semi-final of the League Cup.
The Argentine manager, while disappointed about the two
defeats, has doubled down on his long-held contention that it is more
important for the team to qualify for the Champions League each season
than to win silverware.
"We are going to create a debate that to
win a trophy is going to help the club," he said after defeat for his
much-changed team at Palace.
"I don't agree with that. That only
builds your ego. In reality the most important thing is being
consistently in the top four and playing in the Champions League. That
is going to help the club to achieve the last step."
has credit in the bank with fans for making Spurs regular Champions
League participants in recent years but some supporters are becoming
restless as the wait for a trophy goes on - the last time they tasted
success was in the League Cup in 2008.
"Of course I am
disappointed because, after Thursday and today again, out of two
competitions, you feel disappointed. You can't feel anything different,"
said Pochettino, who has yet to win a trophy in his managerial career.
"But now we have to be
positive. We are still in two competitions, in a good position in the
Premier League and the Champions League is a massive motivation for the
whole club. We have to be strong.
"Now the realistic targets are
trying to be in the top four, try and be close to Manchester City and
Liverpool and reduce the gap."
The problem for Pochettino, who is preparing his
injury-ravaged side to face Watford on Wednesday, is that he is walking a
Spurs, third in the Premier League, four points ahead
of Chelsea and seven clear of Arsenal and a charging Manchester United,
are glancing nervously over their shoulders as much as they are looking
up to Liverpool and Manchester City.
Kane, Alli out
out of the two domestic cup competitions may help the club, who face
Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last-16 next month, by
allowing them to narrow their focus.
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool
appear to have benefited from early FA Cup and League Cup exits but the
problem Pochettino faces is that their league form is also patchy and he
will likely be without talisman Harry Kane and Dele Alli until March.
Spurs have lost two of their past four league matches and needed a last-gasp Harry Winks strike to beat Fulham last week.
One positive for Pochettino is that Son Heung-min is back, boosting options up front.
has missed the past three games while on international duty with South
Korea at the Asian Cup but their surprise quarter-final exit to Qatar
means he is back earlier than expected.
"On Sunday we were with him on the training ground in the morning," said Pochettino.
so tired, he played three games. Very tough games. Of course not too
much energy on Sunday, but we hope he'll be available and ready on
Wednesday to help the team."