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Spurs v Watford - Mauricio's press conference

07 April 2017|Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino spoke to the media this afternoon (Friday, April 7) to preview Saturday lunchtime’s clash with Watford at White Hart Lane. Here’s a look at some of the things he had to say…

We understand Harry Kane has returned to training. Was today his first session?
Mauricio Pochettino: “(He had) a few sessions before and today he was involved with the team and we’ll see tomorrow if I decide he will start the game or he will be on the bench. The good news is he is ready, he feels good, fully recovered. It’s very good news, first of all for him and then for us – he’s an important player for us and for him to be available again to help the team is fantastic news for us.”

Do you think he will play some part this weekend?
Mauricio: “Maybe. I need to decide tomorrow if he will start the game or if he will be on the bench but he is good to be involved tomorrow in the squad.”

How much of a boost is that at this stage of the season?
Mauricio: “I think it’s important, to recover players for the last period of the season. It’s always important to have more alternatives in the team. Harry is very good news and then it’s true that we have different players like (Erik) Lamela who is (out) long-term and we’ll see if Danny Rose in the next few weeks may be available too. It’s always important to have all the squad ready to compete and fight because it will be the tougher period in the season.”

What are the chances of either Hugo Lloris (ill) or Michel Vorm (knee) being fit for the game?
Mauricio: “We have Pau Lopez that is ready to compete and we’ll see tomorrow if Hugo will be involved too. We need to decide tomorrow if he is available to play. It’s true that we must wait for the scan that Michel Vorm is going to have this afternoon. Pau, who is our third keeper, is ready to play if Hugo is not ready.”

Would it be a gamble to play Pau?
Mauricio: “Why? He is training with us, he was playing with the Under-23s and last week he played twice with Spain Under-21s against Denmark and Italy. He is very young but he is here because we believe in him and trust in him and if Hugo or Michel are not ready, he is a keeper that can cope with the pressure and play without a problem.”

What did the manner of Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Swansea say about your team?
Mauricio: “I think the reaction was key but in the end when we analyse the game, we fully deserved the victory. It’s always tough because we conceded the goal after 10 minutes and they were very defensive and it was difficult to break them down but the belief and the way we played, until we scored the equaliser in the game (was good) – always trying to play with our philosophy. The team was always confident and after 88 minutes, always we tried to find the way to break them down and how we scored and the character we showed on Wednesday was fantastic. It makes us better, to believe more in our way and now it’s so important to be ready tomorrow to challenge again – (it’s) another Premier League team, it will be a tough game, the Premier League is always tough to compete in and I think that result helps us to be ready and in a very good mood to confront the game.”

Do you think it was a match that last season you might not have won?
Mauricio: “That is the area that was the challenge to improve from the beginning. I think we are improving a lot but it’s not enough – we’re still improving, we’re still learning. In football you cannot stop learning and improving, always every day is a new challenge. It’s true that with more experience it’s always better but for us it’s (important) to be focused on us and try to win the next three points. We must be focused on us – only on us and try give the best to win the game.”

Are Spurs the only realistic challengers to Premier League leaders Chelsea now?
Mauricio: “We are the closer team, we are second in the table – that is the reality but when you start to explain (numbers), one game more, one game less – I am not focused on that, only I know that we are seven points behind them and (we have to) try to be focused on trying to win the next game. We are in a situation where we must learn from last season and try to improve from last season. A good example was last season and now I don’t care what happens in behind us or above us, it’s important to win the games to have the chance to challenge Chelsea.”

What’s your response to Antonio Conte’s words last week about the expectations of winning at Spurs?
Mauricio: “First of all I didn’t hear him say what you are telling me now. It’s so difficult because sometimes you make a comment away from the broadcast but I can understand. It’s true that when you are seven points above the second team in the table, it’s normal in the end to win the league. Now it’s up to them to win the league. We are in a position where we need to do our job, win games and put pressure on but it’s true that after eight games, if they don’t win the Premier League it will be tough for them to accept. I don’t know if he said that or not – it’s not important. We are in a different project, we are in a different club, our history is massive. At Tottenham our history is bigger than many, many clubs in England, (apart from) only that last period, maybe. We need to reveal that history and reveal that winning mentality. When we arrived I think the mentality was improving every season, every single day. Today we can win or we can lose, but the mentality is always ‘go forward, try to win, try to play well, play an exciting way, always think about the opponents’ goal, be brave’. Many good things have happened at Tottenham in the last two-and-a-half years. I am so happy, I feel very proud about our club, our fans and we’ll see – maybe one day after all that work we will start to be rewarded. That is the only way that we believe we can win in the future.”

It’s the first time that Antonio Conte has appeared to be involved in mind games. Is that in some ways a compliment to you?
Mauricio: “I really don’t believe in mind games. Our mind game is to try to provide your team that belief that we showed against Swansea, the character. In football you can win or lose but it’s so difficult to affect your team when you are with them 24 hours. It’s difficult to affect another team or another manager, to play mind games, how you call it here in England. I think we are strong enough. If like what happened last season, we lose the opportunity to challenge for the Premier League, it’s because it was up to us. Maybe we didn’t have enough quality or for different reasons, we were worse than Leicester or Leicester were better than us but today it’s the same – to try to win games. If we win games we will put pressure on them. Now, the thing that tries to affect our team is not to play mind games like you say.”

Can you talk us through Harry Kane’s training regime this week?
Mauricio: “We are happy. He is ready. Maybe it’s normal that after one month out, you need to feel the competition but he’s a special player, he pushes himself a lot to try to be fully recovered and 100 per cent. I don’t know – we need to decide tomorrow if he will be in the starting XI or on the bench but the good news is that he is back in the team, he is our main striker and what Harry means to the team is massive. It’s fantastic news.”

Is Harry desperate to play?
Mauricio: “He is always desperate to play. He likes to play, he is always pushing you in training to try to play and score goals. His character is unbelievable.”

Would a win tomorrow be a psychological blow to Chelsea considering you play before them?
Mauricio: “It will be fantastic to win the game and get the three points but they have players with a lot of experience to fight for the Premier League, for the Champions League and in different competitions. We’ll see what happens. Our job is to win the game, our job is to try to play better than Watford, we must be focused on that and then we’ll see what happens. The most important thing for us is to be ready tomorrow to compete and show that we deserve the three points in the end.”

Walter Mazzarri has said Watford “don’t have a defence” because of absentees. What’s your take on that?
Mauricio: “That is mind games! I don’t believe that they play only with eight or nine players – they will play with 11 in the starting XI. That is a mind game.”