After a second-half implosion from Tottenham Hotspur at Southampton in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino stated that fighting for the top four is the reality for the club. With the Premier League title out of reach, does the Tottenham boss have a point and is it what the fans want to hear?
‘This Is Our Reality’ – Mauricio Pochettino
“The second half, we did not take it seriously, I don’t want to criticise too much but when you lose a game that was under control after 45 minutes – we should be 3-0, 4-0 – and finishes in 2-1 defeat, it is difficult to accept.
“This is our reality. People talk about perceptions but we need to realise if you do not fight with intensity for the Champions League, you will struggle. We are fighting against big sides. We had a big gap, welcome to the reality, we are under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us.”
The manner in which Pochettino put across his point is what should concern Tottenham fans. The ‘welcome to reality’ comment was almost said with anger. A month ago, Spurs were in the title race. Defeats at Burnley and Southampton along with defeat at Chelsea and a draw with North London rivals Arsenal ended those hopes, but it has been the manner of the performances that is cause for most concern.
Pochettino didn’t hold back in condemning his players ‘arrogance’ at St Mary’s. When Davinson Sanchez, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose all inexplicably failed to clear a simple ball and Southampton equalised, the attitude of the players was plain to see. No one shouting at each other, just an acceptance of the goal. Rose stepped over the ball and it was an incident that raises serious questions about this team. The term ‘bottlers’ has been used but actually, it’s the arrogance of the players that is the problem.
Lack of Identity
Tottenham Hotspur’s progression under Pochettino has been about consistency. Something that over the decades, the club have struggled with. Not just that, though – identity has been key too. Team spirit and togetherness have been two watchwords. Against Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United away and Chelsea at home, those qualities have been present. Yet in games against Southampton, Watford away, Liverpool at home, Manchester United at home and Chelsea away, Tottenham have lacked any identity at all. Sloppy passing, low energy levels and again, arrogance that just turning up will win a game of football.
Top four is Tottenham’s reality. Being there with no new signings and yet to go ‘back home’ has in some ways been remarkable. With a near three week break before travelling to Liverpool, Mauricio Pochettino has time to get his troops back on track and focusing on securing Champions League football for next season. The manager is showing signs of anger, frustration and is more liable to bite at questions he doesn’t like in press conferences.
Tottenham simply cannot fail to finish in the top four this season. If they do, their reality of title challengers and top four football might just become a distant memory.