Pochettino spurred on by progress on and off the pitch
Mauricio Pochettino is anxious to keep Tottenham Hotspur’s focus on Saturday’s trip to face Stoke City but there is no doubt last weekend’s win at Chelsea has ignited debate about the club’s future.
A first win at Stamford Bridge in 28 years means the north London club, currently occupying fourth place, opened up an eight-point gap to Antonio Conte’s side in fifth.
With just seven league games remaining this season, a place in the Champions League for a third successive season now seems assured while Manchester United stand between Pochettino’s side and a place in the FA Cup final.
Victory in that competition would mean the manager could add silverware to his impressive list of achievements since taking charge.
With the club set to move back into a rebuilt White Hart Lane next season, the challenge would shift towards building on the progress on the last four years.
“This is the most competitive league in the world and there are a lot of great teams but we’ve reduced the gap to them,” said Spurs captain Hugo Lloris.
“Now we are ready to compete against them and we must maintain that, because Tottenham have to stay at this level.
“Obviously, with the new stadium, something big is waiting for us and we cannot see this future without the Champions League.
“So winning at Chelsea was a good answer, a collective answer, and we will keep working hard with the manager we have got.”
Reports this week that chairman Daniel Levy received £6 million ($8.4 million, 6.9 million euros) during the last financial year focused attention on the wage bill for the club’s playing staff which is smaller than some of the leading Premier League clubs.
There is a growing belief Spurs will have to loosen the purse strings if they are to retain their best players and attract the quality of signing needed to improve the club’s standing.
– ‘We’ve got to try and win the FA Cup’ –
That is for the summer when Pochettino has said he will sit down with Levy to map out the next stage of the club’s strategy.
“We have to talk a lot in the club, with Daniel, and get around a table and see what happens,” said Pochettino.
“After four years together, the club has moved on in everything: not just in football, but about facilities.
“Next season we’ll have a new stadium and it could be fantastic. I’ll share my ideas with the club and we’ll see how we can improve.”
For now, though, the aim is to finish the campaign on a high.
That task will only be helped by Dele Alli’s return to goalscoring form against Chelsea while Harry Kane’s return from the bench three weeks after picking up an ankle injury at Bournemouth was also timely.
“Champions League football is a must and we’re in a great position,” Kane told the Evening Standard this week, setting out the targets for the rest of the season.
“I think we’ve got to try and win the FA Cup. If we do that, we can say it’s been a very good season.
“Obviously (Manchester) City have run away with the league this year, and fair play to them.
“But for us, it’s about maintaining the Champions League every year and hopefully we can do that. We’re in a comfortable position, we’ve got to go on and finish well.
“We don’t just want to be a team that gets there one or two years and then falls off. We deserve to be there. We showed this year in the Champions League that we can compete with the best.”
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