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KAA Gent v Spurs - Mauricio's press conference

Posted on 15 February 2017  - 23:00

Mauricio Pochettino faced the media at the Ghelamco Arena on Wednesday, ahead of our Europa League Round of 32 first leg against KAA Gent.

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Here's what he had to say...

Are we going to see your strongest team against KAA Gent?
Mauricio: “We always try to put out the best starting 11 for every competition and always try to provide good energy to the team. It was the same question after Liverpool. After the defeat, the first question was you’ll now play your strongest team (against KAA Gent) - like we played against Liverpool and lost 2-0. We need to stop thinking in that way. For me, when you play for Tottenham, every time we play, it’s a strong team. Sometimes we need to provide fresh energy to the team and if we win, okay, if we lose, that’s my responsibility. Tottenham is always about the team, the squad, every single player we sign and plays for Tottenham is available for every game in every competition.”

Is your hardest job picking the team? Does it ever become a real headache?
Mauricio: “For me, it’s not the hardest job to pick the starting 11. Maybe you (the media) make me suffer a little with some questions, but it’s always about respect - respect the team, the squad and the players. I understand why you ask me and our fans want to know about my decisions, but I need to care about all players, 24, 25, and try to make a decision, sometimes good, sometimes, after the game, not so good.”

Jose Mourinho said if Manchester United progress in the Europa League they’ll be in trouble with amount of games they could play. How do you feel about that?
Mauricio: “I’m happy to be involved in different competitions, Europa League and FA Cup. You have to try to manage the players in the best way and now we’re in a period where we have a few games ahead, tomorrow, on Sunday in the FA Cup at Fulham, Thursday (week, the return leg against KAA Gent) and then Stoke. It’s not easy but we need to be fresh in our minds to try to make the better decisions for the team. You need all the squad to be involved, all important. I like to compete. Some teams like Chelsea or Liverpool now have a few days off to try to prepare the next game in the Premier League in one week and a half because they are not involved in European competition or the FA Cup. I prefer to be busy and try to win some titles, try to compete, for me, that’s the best way to be."

What do you think of KAA Gent?
Mauricio: “They are a young, dynamic team, aggressive and they’ve had very good performances in the Europa League. We need to be at the same level of motivation and aggression and then it’s a game we need to compete in and try to win. Gent play well at home and we’ll have to fight to take away a good result.”

With Chelsea so far ahead in the Premier League, are the cup competitions more important now?
Mauricio: “It’s the same. Our position in the Premier League is good, the objective is to try to win tomorrow, to try to go to the next stage and the same in the FA Cup, the same spirit, the same aims.”

What has been the approach since Liverpool? Have you ‘beaten up’ the players or showed them some love?
Mauricio: “I try to give love. We all feel all disappointed and we’ve suffered a lot. Sometimes when your performance is no good you feel that game touched your pride. We’ve talked a lot to understand why, to learn about what happened from the beginning of game - it’s difficult to come back when after 15, 16 minutes you are 2-0 down and maybe even 3-0 down, maybe in five minutes we could have conceded three goals when in 24 games we’d conceded 16. Many things happened that are difficult to understand and together we try to discover why and try to learn.”

Which players are definitely out against KAA Gent?
Mauricio: “Lamela, Rose and Jan Vertonghen. They are in London.”

Are there any players you might prefer to rest?
Mauricio: “Today is the last training session, I will decide tomorrow or after the session. I think they are in good condition and after what happened against Liverpool, all the players want the chance to play again and try to change the feeling. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll make some changes but not too much.”

You’ve spoken after certain games that haven’t gone well about a lack of spirit or desire, do you understand why that’s happened?
Mauricio: “Sometimes in football it happens and you can’t find out why. It’s like Barcelona (at PSG), sometimes it’s not a good day, it happens. We feel disappointed because every time you have the possibility to play football you want to show your best and people expect for you to be at a good level. But it’s true we dropped our performance, our energy, our desire maybe or we showed a lack of being competitive as a team. That surprised us because before (the game) we spoke about how we’ll play and start the game, but sometimes it happens and you can’t change it.”