Newcastle United, promoted back to the top flight from the Championship at the first time of asking last term, are our first opponents at St James’ Park after a testing pre-season spell which included three top-level games in the United States, followed by a fine 2-0 victory over Italian champions Juventus at Wembley last weekend.
Emphasising his desire to see the team hit the ground running on Tyneside, Mauricio told Spurs TV: “It’s exciting for us to start the season. The players always love to compete, we all love to compete.
“Pre-season is important to get fit and to arrive in the best condition but we’re all excited to start the new season now. After the game against Juventus at Wembley, the feeling is good in the changing room, is good in the team. We’re working hard trying to develop our game in our best condition and I think we’ll arrive at a good level.
“It’s true that from the beginning, with 38 games to play, it’s important to win and start well. It’s always massive to win the first three points because it will bring us more confidence and trust in the way we play.”
Do you feel there’s any extra expectation this season in view of our progress in recent years?
“For me, it’s the same pressure as when we started three years ago. Tottenham has always had their own pressure to win and we are a team and a group of players who are ambitious, who want to fight and want to win. It’s important for us. Maybe this season we’ll have the possibility again to challenge for some trophies and maybe at the end we can achieve it. It’s always important to believe and have faith in your job and always feel that everything is possible in football.”
Speaking generally, what are your aims for 2017-18?
“Always for us to start at the best level and try to win games. That is most important. It’s so difficult to set a target for a season that hasn’t started but for us, like always, it’s to try to win. We are ambitious, we try to play well and try to do again exactly what we’ve done for the last few seasons. To try to win and enjoy it with our fans, that is most important.”
What are your thoughts on facing Newcastle?
“Newcastle is a promoted team, they will be excited to play back in the Premier League. They have a great manager, a very good team and it will be very tough, like always in the Premier League. Every game is tough.”
Does Rafa Benitez deserve credit for sticking with Newcastle in the Championship and bringing them straight back up?
“Yes, of course. Full credit to him. He’s a great manager. It wasn’t easy to bring the team back to the Premier League, the Championship is so complicated and I think he deserves full credit for that season and now to be back in the Premier League.”
We lost 5-1 at St James’ Park on the last day of 2015-16. Will that be in the players’ minds on Sunday?
“It’s true, it was a long time ago but it’s always important to try to give your best. It’s important for us to forget that because it’s a completely different season and different situation but in your mind, of course, the last time we visited St James’ Park was complicated for us. That’s why it is positive for us to be motivated to play there again.”