Spelling out his ambition in stronger terms than ever before, Pochettino explained that he wants his Spurs side to prove that they are the best in England or even in Europe. That is why he targeting the biggest prizes.
The one criticism of Pochettino’s Spurs era so far has been the lack of silverware, although they have been getting closer. Spurs lost the Capital One Cup final in 2015, finished third in the league in 2016 and then second last season, and reached the FA Cup semi-finals too in April. Asked whether he needed a first trophy to bring the rest, Pochettino explained it was not quite that simple. He wants to be the best, and to win the “real trophies”. Of course winning a smaller cup would be nice, but it is not the priority or the motivation at Spurs. Being the best matters more.
“I need to explain what it means to win a trophy,” Pochettino said at his press conference on Friday afternoon. “I want to win the Premier League. I don’t say that it’s not important to win the League Cup or the FA Cup or the Europa League. But for me, we need to put Tottenham every season with the possibility to win the Premier League and the Champions League, the two most important trophies. That is our challenge.”
Tottenham are clearly getting closer to the Premier League, having finished third last year and then second in May. Pochettino wants to keep that improvement going. “If one day I am not capable to win the Premier League here with Tottenham, or we don’t have the chance to win the Premier League, it will be very disappointing,” he said. “I want to Premier League, I want to win the Champions League, those are the real trophies.”
Pochettino was keen to point out that he meant no disrespect to the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League. But equally he was very clear he does not see winning those as the ultimate goal for Spurs, or even as a necessary step on their way. And if winning one of those came at the cost of losing a few Premier League places, he would not take the trade.
“Sometimes people say that to improve, or to show that the team is good or the manager is good, they need a trophy,” he said. “Sometimes, it is lot of comments about ‘ok, now Tottenham need a trophy.’ No, no, no, no. [We] need a big trophy. A big trophy is Premier League or Champions League. If not, OK we prepare the team to win the FA Cup or League Cup, and you are in the middle of the table, or sixth, or seventh, on the Premier League. I think I would be disappointed, it would mean nothing.”
Pochettino explained that there is always an element of chance in winning the cups, which is different from the pure merit-test that is winning a league title. “Sometimes there are some coincidences, you can win the FA Cup because of the draw, or the League Cup because of the draw,” he said. “Or the Europa League because for different reasons the big clubs are more focused on the other competitions than the Europa League. For me, to win a trophy means to win the Premier League or the Champions League. Sorry, with full respect.”
Of course Pochettino would like to win the League Cup or the FA Cup this season, but it is not what is going to drive him, especially when he has reigning Premier League champions Chelsea to face on Sunday. Pochettino wants to knock Chelsea off their perch and prove his team are the best.
“For me the principle reason I am here is to try to challenge for the Premier League, and challenge for the Champions League, if we are capable to compete in the best competition in the world. Then, to win a trophy means a lot.”
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