Harry Kane has been named Premier League EA SPORTS Player of the Month for February. Can you sum up how well he’s been playing?
Mauricio Pochettino: “I think you can see that he’s playing very well, he's scoring goals which is fantastic for the team and fantastic for him. Always the trophy represents that the team is doing well too. I’m happy for him, happy for the team, (we’ve had some) good results in the last few weeks, I think he’s playing well and fully deserves the trophy.”
Has he stepped up a gear from last season?
Mauricio: “I think that he’s doing very well. After he started to play regularly in the Premier League two years and a few months ago, he’s showing that he still can improve but he’s showing that he’s one of the best strikers in Europe and of course the Premier League in England. He is very young and his mentality is to try to improve every day, work hard to try to learn and be better in every game and every season.”
How many goals do you think he can score this season? Perhaps 30-plus?
Mauricio: “You never know. It’s too difficult to guess. We hope more than that number but always it’s difficult, he only needs to be focused, work hard, try to be patient, play and enjoy football. That is the most important thing.”
Ben Davies signed a new contract this week. How do you sum up his progress since his arrival?
Mauricio: “Always it’s difficult to share a position with Danny Rose, who is one of the best full-backs in England and in Europe. He’s worked very hard to try to find his place, he’s a fantastic professional, a fantastic boy and I can only praise him because his position wasn’t easy from the beginning and he’s always kept fighting, always waiting for his opportunity to play and I think he fully deserves to extend his contract that improves his salary because when we are talking about the team and the squad, this type of player deserves all the credit to keep fighting and pushing the level of the squad.”
Millwall have beaten three Premier League teams so far in the FA Cup. Are you wary of them?
Mauricio: “We are very focused because the game will be very tough. It’s another London derby, we were watching all the games and they fully deserve to be in the quarter-finals, they were better than the Premier League teams, I think we are aware about that situation and we respect them. It’s a very compact team, very clear how they play, very clear in their idea of how they manage the games. Their formation is 4-4-2 with two strikers, we are fully aware of how they play and we know that we will find a very tough game because the FA Cup is special, it’s magic and the beauty of the FA Cup is that the level is not important because all teams believe they can win. For us it’s very important because it’s massive to be at Wembley in the semi-finals, it’s a very important opportunity for us to go and to play the semi-final but we know very well that first of all we need to play against a very tough and very difficult team.”
There’s been a proposal for next season from January to introduce video help for referees in the FA Cup. Is that something that you’re in favour of?
Mauricio: “I don’t know, we’ll see how it affects the game, the timing and all. It’s true that it will be important to see in different competitions than the FA Cup and then find all the information on how it can work in football. For the referee it will be good and for us too but then it’s about how it’s working and how it’s affecting the game – that is important first of all, to test those things.”
Do you think pre-match music in the changing room is important and who is responsible for it at Spurs?
Mauricio: “I love to hear music before the game, I think today in all changing rooms it happens. In our changing room it’s Dele Alli, Harry Kane, sometimes it’s the goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez with some Spanish music that is very boring for our players! I like it. In a moment that they are preparing I think it’s important to be focused and the music helps them to be focused on the game. It’s true that 45 minutes before we stop the music because we start the pre-activation in the changing room – at that moment we stop, the best music is silence and then we focus on the game. But I like it from the moment that we arrive in the changing room.”
Can Harry Kane get close to Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goalscoring record?
Mauricio: “I don’t know, we hope yes and we wish that he can be close to Alan Shearer. Alan Shearer was one of the best strikers, an unbelievable player and why not? Harry Kane is still very young with the potential to improve a lot and why not one day? We are talking about Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker – players that were fantastic, unbelievable players.”
Is the FA Cup your best chance to win a trophy?
Mauricio: “It’s one chance, I don’t know if it’s the best chance. It’s one opportunity for us to win a trophy. It’s true that we are involved in two competitions – the Premier League, that will be tough to win because the gap is 10 points to Chelsea, and the FA Cup is a possibility that we have in front of us and it’s up to us, of course.”
Millwall are on a lengthy unbeaten run. What does that bring to a team in terms of confidence?
Mauricio: “They are on a very good run with full confidence, trust in the way that they play and it will be tough. Then it’s the beauty of the FA Cup – you believe always that you can win, it’s not important the level that you are playing, League One or Premier League, and for us it’s a final. We are ready to fight, it will be tough and it’s a massive thing for us – the challenge to play at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals is a massive challenge for us.”
You say that it’s like a final – does that mean you’ll play your strongest team on Sunday?
Mauricio: “Of course, like always we will pick the best team to try to win. The good thing is we only have Erik Lamela and Danny Rose injured, then all the players are available to be selected.”
Neil Harris, the Millwall manager, has called for good behaviour from all supporters at the game on Sunday. What’s your message on that subject?
Mauricio: “For me, it’s the first time that I’ve faced Millwall. I hope that all happens in a very good way. It’s an important game for both clubs but I hope that nothing happens. I trust that our fans and their fans behave well and that is my wish. Football is about trying to enjoy and (feeling) happiness. In my head it’s to try to provide, be calm and try to enjoy football. That is my wish.”
It’s been said this week that Millwall will look to unsettle Spurs and could play quite a physical game. Are you ready for that?
Mauricio: “Yes, of course we are ready. We are aware of what happened in the previous ties and it will be tough. An example was Wycombe at home, it was tough for us but it was a very good experience for us. Sunday will be a very tough game and we need to give our best.”
Will you need to speak to the players specifically about staying calm?
Mauricio: “No because they know what we will find on Sunday and we are very aware. You don’t need to explain – it’s the possibility to go to the semi-final. From the first moment you must fight, you must play, run, be focused, concentrate and try to win. In front of us will be a very tough opposition with full confidence, trust in the way that they play and belief. We need to be motivated, excited to play in front of our fans at White Hart Lane and then the objective is to be at Wembley in the semi-final.”
DON’T MISS SUNDAY’S OFFICIAL MATCHDAY PROGRAMME!
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- Main feature interview with ex-Millwall loanee Harry Kane
- Mauricio Pochettino's exclusive column
- Talking all things Moussa Sissoko in 'Centre of Attention'
- A look at our seven previous London derby FA Cup quarter-finals
- The surprising number of Spurs loanees who've played for Millwall
- A chat with Teddy Sheringham about his time at The Den
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