Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was rewarded by a 2-1 victory at Newcastle yesterday after he took a risk with players who missed their pre-season games after being involved in the World Cup.
Nine of the Tottenham squad were involved in the semi-finals of the tournament last month and Pochettino gambled by putting five of them in his starting line-up at St James’ Park
The decision paid off as Tottenham’s goals came from Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli, two of the men who only returned to training last Monday.
“It was important for us and, in the circumstances, I feel so proud of my team,” Pochettino said.
“The players came back in good condition and I was happy that they have been very professional during the holidays.
“All the squad have shown their commitment to the club and my job was to pick a starting eleven.
“If we want to win something, if we want to challenge for big things, we all need to put our minds, energy and quality into the collective. If that is not there, you are going to be out of the team.
“All the players who want to stay at Tottenham have to show their commitment.”
Harry Kane was among the players involved yesterday, but the England captain lacked a goal threat. “He can’t score three goals in every game,” said Pochettino, who plans to rotate his squad in the next few weeks
He said:”All the players have the possibility of playing. I’ve told them we are starting from zero.”
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez said:”We deserved at least a draw. We played against a very good team and you could see their quality, but you could also see our team spirit and work rate. You could see the chances we had.
“The difference in quality is what makes the difference. But my team didn’t give up and that’s a positive thing for the future. We made mistakes against very good players and it is difficult to stop them because of the way they pass the ball and move around the pitch. It is not easy when that have that quality, but we had chances to draw.
Joselu, a surprise choice ahead of Salomon Rondon, scored Newcastle’s goal. “I was pleased for him”, Benitez said. “People don’t appreciate it when he works so hard, so strikers need to score goals. It will be good for his confidence.”
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