Can you clarify the team news for the game?
Mauricio Pochettino: “It’s the same as on Saturday. Erik Lamela, Danny Rose, Michel Vorm, Harry Winks and Cameron Carter-Vickers are still out. No new injuries. The rest of the players are okay and ready for tomorrow.”
When do you expect Danny Rose to be back?
Mauricio: “It’s so difficult. Next Sunday it will be three months since he got injured. Today he started to do some things with the group, we’ll see how he reacts in the next few days and then we’ll see. It’s not the same to be in training and have to compete after three months, we are always careful with him but we are happy, he is in a good way and we hope that as soon as possible he can be available to be selected and to be in the squad again.”
Could he be fit for the Arsenal game on Sunday?
Mauricio: “It’s so difficult to say. Today it’s difficult because we need to check him. It will be difficult because he needs to feel training hard and recover the feeling of competition. After three months it’s always difficult for a player that is injured but we’ll see. We are not closed, we are flexible and we are always open to try to adjust for the players every day.”
What has the players’ mood been like after Saturday?
Mauricio: “Today it’s very good. It’s true that the week was so difficult, starting on Thursday with the tragic situation with Ugo. It was difficult to handle and manage all. On Saturday we played well and deserved more but like I told you after the game, I feel very proud, the effort was fantastic, we played well but on that day, as you saw, it was so difficult to win. That is football. They were so disappointed, sad and it’s true that Sunday and Monday were difficult days for them but it was good and it helped a lot to stay here all together, running a little bit, training and spending time together. Today we are again ready to compete tomorrow. We have a very tough game, in the last (few) months, Crystal Palace (have been) playing so well, they won against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, they beat Arsenal at home and then last Sunday they won against Liverpool. I can speak very highly about the team and the impact of Sam Allardyce on the team and I think it will be a very tough game. When you are competing at that level, it’s so difficult. There’s no time to regret or complain, (you have to) be ready for the present and the games that we have ahead and try to give your best like we did on Saturday.”
In view of Crystal Palace’s form, is this possibly the toughest game in the Premier League at the moment?
Mauricio: “For us, they are all very difficult games but it’s true that it’s our toughest game because it’s our next game. They are playing well, they have very good players and you can see in the last few weeks how they’ve played. If you are capable of beating Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal it’s because you are full of confidence and have a lot of quality and that is what we are aware of. We must give our best to try to get the three points because we are fighting for the Premier League or if, in the end, it’s not possible to catch Chelsea, to be in the top four. The next six games are all finals.”
Do you need to win all six to catch Chelsea?
Mauricio: “Of course, and (even) then it’s not sure that you can catch Chelsea. Today it’s up to Chelsea as I told you a few weeks ago and we’ll see. Tonight they play and we’ll see what happens but for us, whatever happens tonight, tomorrow it’s a game that we must win.”
Will you watch Chelsea’s game against Southampton tonight?
Mauricio: “Of course, yes!”
Will you be supporting your old club?!
Mauricio: “You know, Southampton is a very special place for me, a special team forever. It will be important for us if Chelsea drop points and then, if we are capable of winning tomorrow, to reduce the gap. When you are fighting for this type of trophy, it’s always important to have some help when you are in behind your opponents.”
At the weekend, Antonio Conte intimated that he was slightly unhappy with the fixture scheduling. Do you think that’s a sign that Chelsea are worried about Spurs?
Mauricio: “You never know. We are looking for all, but the matter that we need to be focusing on is ourselves. I don’t know if Chelsea play before or after, it’s day by day for us but every season is the same – sometimes it’s for you, sometimes it’s against you. It’s about different schedules for different teams. The most important thing is to adapt. All the teams, we try to complain, try to play, to send some messages to the people. I think that is normal. I have nothing to say.”
Dele Alli has been named PFA Young Player of the Year. Were you surprised he wasn’t in contention for the Players’ Player award?
Mauricio: “We’ve spoken a lot in the last two seasons about Dele Alli. I am so happy but now is the moment to speak about Crystal Palace and the team. All the individual achievements that the players have this season or last season are important and we feel very happy for them but now we need to be focused on trying to win games, to finish in the best way and to concentrate on today. When we finish the season it will be a moment to enjoy all the achievements, all the individual achievements and, I hope, collective achievements. This is the most important thing and all our fans, the club and the players want to achieve collective things. They are more important than the individual achievements.”
How tough do you think it will be to go to Selhurst Park?
Mauricio: “For me, every stadium is special for different reasons. Some are special because they are so big, others are so tight, different styles of fans – I love every single away game because it’s a great opportunity to see our fans, who are unbelievable. Every time that we play away, our fans are amazing. It’s always special because in England it’s completely different to another country because the fans make it a completely different game. It’s different in England compared to other countries because of the fans. It will be special because Crystal Palace play at a stadium that’s so tight, the fans are so intense and it will be special. They are having a very good run, we are fighting for the title and for big things. It will be a very interesting game on and off the pitch.”
Sam Allardyce has been quoted as saying that he might have to make ‘huge changes’ to his side for the game…
Mauricio: “Every manager tries to take the best decision for their club. If he changes because he needs to provide or add more energy to the team…. I think Crystal Palace have a very good squad and very good players and then we’ll see. Today, I don’t know the starting XI or the 18 players that will be involved but (whether) he plays one or another player, the characteristics and philosophy and the way that they play is very clear.”
What do you think Sam Allardyce brings to his teams?
Mauricio: “We can see every game – the belief is important, the players look confident in the way that they play. In that moment when he took charge, the most important thing was to translate confidence, trust, belief and faith and I think that was the big impact on the team from him.”
We’re still awaiting confirmation as to where you’ll play your home games next season. If you go to Wembley, are you concerned about your form there based on your experiences in recent seasons?
Mauricio: “I am not worried. I am so honest because if you analyse all the games, it’s our game that will be different if we move there next season. I am not worried – the team played so well the other day, played so well against Gent with 10 players, the last game in the Champions League against CSKA we won and only in two games, like Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, we didn’t play so well but we competed and I am not worried. Only now we need to be focused on now and at the end, try to find a way to feel comfortable there and try to win games if we will move there next season.”
It was rumoured that Ben Davies had an injury on Saturday and that led to Heung-Min Son playing at left wing-back. Can you shed any light on that?
Mauricio: “Ben is okay. It’s true that during three months he’s played a lot of games. Sometimes you need to rest some players but it’s true that the team played well. Son played in a position where we tried to be more offensive, we tried to stop (Chelsea) in different ways, not wait for (Victor) Moses to attack, to push him to play in the back five. I think he made a very good job and when you lose, of course, you need to try to improve, but the decision was to be more offensive and try to play in a way to win the game like always. We’ll see tomorrow. Ben is okay, he needed to rest a little bit.”
Can you envisage Son playing in that wing-back role again in future if you want to be more offensive?
Mauricio: “Yes, of course, because I think he was good. He was unlucky because I think it wasn’t a penalty and maybe the feeling is bad but I am so happy with him and if Tottenham play well, it’s because of Sonny too. It was a little bit unlucky – when you concede the first goal after four minutes, then when you are playing well and you are pushing at 1-1 – for me it wasn’t a penalty – and then in second half you dominate completely… It was a game where maybe if you play with a different starting XI, maybe the same happens. Always we try to find different ways to play, to be offensive, respect the philosophy and I am happy. Ben is okay and maybe he will play tomorrow.”
Are there any comparisons to draw between when you played Chelsea at the end of last season and again now?
Mauricio: “That was completely different. If you remember after the draw against Chelsea, (there were) two games ahead to play but Leicester won the Premier League in the moment that we got the draw. It was a big disappointment, but completely different to now. Now we’ve lost the semi-final but there are six games ahead, we are fighting to try to catch Chelsea but in the end fighting to be in the Champions League and to be in the top four. You can see the size of the teams that are fighting with us, it’s completely different to last season. There is no reason now not to be focused and try to win games. I think it’s completely different.”
People have said some good things about Tottenham recently but questions start to be asked again after failing to win a big game like on Saturday…
Mauricio: “No doubt. First of all, to have the possibility to win titles you need to arrive at that level and we were so far (away) two years ago – not even two years. In the first year I remember it was so difficult to change and we started to reveal (our true selves) after the first season. It’s important to remember because in the first season when we arrived, we got 35 players and we started to reveal the team during the season – not arrived and tried to sign 10 players and put out another 10 or 12 players. I think that is important and we’ve started to compete in the last two seasons. Last season we finished third, it was the best place in the Premier League for Tottenham and now we are second and fighting with the big sides with a completely different project but the mentality is fantastic. The mentality is to win, always, but when you compete with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, come on – the players deserve full credit. Remove that idea because that is not true. They are winners. Another thing is to win titles but, for me, they are winners.”