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

Argentine takes his new charges to Cyprus to face AEL Limassol

larnaca

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?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border