What can you tell us on team news for Saturday’s game?
Mauricio Pochettino: “Harry Kane is still out. He is doing very well but he is not ready yet. Then we need to assess Mousa Dembele too. We have another day tomorrow to see if he can be available or not and then we have a few issues from international duty – we need to assess them today and tomorrow to take the right decision.”
Can you put a timescale on Harry Kane’s return?
Mauricio: “At the end of next week maybe he can start to train on the grass a little bit. That is very positive and he’s doing well – we’ll see. We don’t know yet (when he can play again), we can only explain that he’s doing well and we hope that next week he can start to train on the grass, still not with the group, but we are happy with the way that he is recovering from his injury.”
What would you say to the idea that Spurs are genuine title contenders?
Mauricio: “The same thing that I told you in the past, before and after City – for us it’s important to go step by step. I think it’s too early to start to talk about if we are contenders for the title at the end of the season or not. The most important thing is to work hard and try to win games.”
How many teams do you think can realistically challenge for the title?
Mauricio: “Realistically, I don’t know. Last season in this period nobody believed that Leicester City could achieve the title – to be realistic, everything can happen in football and because of that it’s too early to start to talk about realistic contenders for the title.”
Nacer Chadli is starring for West Brom at the moment – can you explain the circumstances around his departure from Spurs this summer?
Mauricio: “It was clear to him. He asked me before the end of last season if he had the possibility to go and play more at another team, I said to him ‘you are in my plan but if you want to leave and if it’s the right club, the right price and everything is right, it’s not a problem’. In the end he chose to go to West Brom, both clubs arrived at a deal and that was all that happened.”
Have you made a decision on who will take penalties after the discussion involving Erik Lamela and Heung-Min Son in the Manchester City game?
Mauricio: “It’s not a big problem for us. They have an unbelievable relationship, Erik and Sonny, and it’s normal. If more players want to take the penalty and shoot, I prefer that than if all players say they don’t want to shoot. It’s not a big issue. In the next game they’ll decide again – if you have more confidence to shoot, then shoot. For me it’s not a problem.”
What’s been the most pleasing part of the Club’s start to the season?
Mauricio: “Many things. To be unbeaten after seven games, to be in our position – second in the table – which is a great position for us and to play in the way that we played in the last game. That makes us very proud and pleased with our players.”
What did you learn from last season and how much is that helping this time around?
Mauricio: “You never know if it helped or not. In football, it’s always about the present. It’s true that you need to learn from your past experiences but football is always a new situation, it’s always different. It’s important to be consistent and regular in the whole season to try to achieve good things. Last season our start was a little difficult and then we finished in the way that we finished, but we are more mature now and we are more focused to try to compete in every game and to treat every game like a final. Every point is very important and that is a thing that we have improved a lot from last season.”
Vincent Janssen is yet to score a Premier League goal. Does that concern you?
Mauricio: “He’s coming back after international duty, he scored for his national team, he is confident and I am not worried about that.”
What’s your view on the busy schedule of fixtures coming up?
Mauricio: “It’s not a big problem for me because we have a strong squad and all (players) will be important. When you are confident and you believe in your squad, that’s important. You try to take the right decision for every game, assess every player in the right way and then try to put the best players out for each game.”
Is it difficult to keep the players’ feet on the ground after all the praise they received following the Manchester City game?
Mauricio: “No, it’s not difficult. We are young but we have some experienced players and our job is to try to be realistic. We only got three points from Manchester City. It’s true that it was a good game, we played well and it was exciting but now we must be clever. We need to understand that it will be a very tough game against West Brom. If we are not focused and we do not play with the same intensity and the same passion I think that we will suffer a lot against a team that is very physical and strong. In the Premier League you can never play at 80 or 70 per cent of your capacity – you can only play at 100 per cent.”
Do you feel like the team has matured since the 1-1 draw with West Brom at the end of last season?
Mauricio: “If you analyse the game that we played at White Hart Lane, we finished the first half 4-0 or 5-0 (on chances), easy, nobody said anything, but in the second half we conceded some chances, the way that they scored was from a set piece and then the draw killed the possibility a little bit to fight for the Premier League. Every game is different, we’ll see what happens on Saturday but we are aware of the quality that they have. For us, it’s important to keep the focus in the same way that we played against Manchester City. It’s true that it’s a different team and they will push us in a different way to Manchester City but if we want to fight for big things at the end of the season or lift trophies, we need to adapt our game and know that we need to play with a team that plays in a different way.”
Can you explain a bit more about Mousa Dembele’s injury situation?
Mauricio: “He got a minor problem with his hamstring against Sunderland, then he was good but he got a knock on his foot (in training) and now he’s recovering from that. It’s minor, but it’s painful for him when he touches the ball.”