Europa League 2014: Mauricio Pochettino wants to go all the way with Spurs

Argentine takes his new charges to Cyprus to face AEL Limassol


Mauricio Pochettino’s first experience of European football was in Cyprus and, 18 years later, Tottenham’s manager returns to the Mediterranean island on Thursday night to make his managerial bow on the Continent.

It was September 1996 when a 24-year-old Pochettino was part of an Espanyol side who drew 2-2 with Apoel Nicosia in the first round of the Uefa Cup. Pochettino’s Espanyol won the return leg 1-0 and, ahead of Tottenham’s Europa League game against AEL Limassol, he can still recall his first taste of European football.

“I remember it was very hot,” said the head coach. “We drew the first leg here in Cyprus before winning the second leg. I would settle for the same outcome this time.”

The winners of this season’s Europa League will qualify for the Champions League group stage and Pochettino, who last season said he had “no interest” in the competition because “it kills you”, has no intention of taking it lightly.

“The Europa League is now a different competition,” he said. “Why? Well, if you won it last year you got nothing. Just a trophy. But now the Europa League gives you the opportunity to play in the Champions League.”

The prospect of playing 16 games, which is what it would take to reach the final in Warsaw, does not put Pochettino off. He feels Spurs have enough to cope with the demands of domestic and European football this season.

“We have a very strong squad,” he said. “But we need to be clever in our analysis and management of the players.

“We will put in place the best team to try to win the game.”

Emmanuel Adebayor, Christian Eriksen, Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue have not made the trip to Larnaca, where the first leg of this play-off tie is being held. Belgian trio Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé and Nacer Chadli are back, but goalkeeper Michel Vorm is still not available.

Pochettino has dismissed suggestions that Vorm is not being selected because of an ongoing dispute between the goalkeeper’s previous clubs Utrecht and Swansea over money apparently owed to the Dutch club in sell-on fees for his summer move to Spurs.

“He is not in the squad for this leg because he has a specific plan,” said Pochettino, whose side host Queen’s Park Rangers on Sunday.

“He arrived late from the World Cup and it is important to prepare him for the next level next week.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own