Good though tough times

Tottenham's Harry Kane tussling for the ball with Norwich's Ivo Pinto during their league game on Tuesday. He scored a brace in the 3-0 win and will be looking to get on the scoresheet again when his side face Watford today.
Tottenham's Harry Kane tussling for the ball with Norwich's Ivo Pinto during their league game on Tuesday. He scored a brace in the 3-0 win and will be looking to get on the scoresheet again when his side face Watford today.PHOTO: REUTERS

Spurs prudent in market in search of 'right player' amid huge investment in new stadium

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has said Tottenham Hotspur are in a "very tough period" because of their new stadium project - just as Arsenal were when they built the Emirates Stadium - as he sought to explain why the club did not sign the back-up striker some supporters had wanted in January.

The manager knew the question about the lack of specialised cover for Harry Kane would come on Thursday and he had clearly given plenty of thought to his answer.

During a five-minute monologue, which was without precedent from his time in English football, Pochettino went into great detail about the factors that had shaped the club's recent approach to the transfer market.

They included the balance and harmony of the squad, which has helped to power the club to a surprise Premier League title challenge, together with the importance of staying away from signings who were not a significant upgrade on what they already had, and might block the progress of young talent from the academy.

Pochettino also spoke more generally about the project he had signed up to in the summer of 2014.

Tottenham intend to move into the new stadium, which will be built adjacent to the existing White Hart Lane site, in time for the 2018-19 season . The estimated cost is £400 million (S$811.5 million) to £450 million.

"I have read a lot about (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger saying the toughest period for Arsenal was in the period that they built their stadium and I think you need to know, and the people need to know, that this is a very tough period for us," he said.

"We need to be careful because we need to arrive at the new stadium in very good condition to try to fight for everything, and try to show that we are one of the best clubs and teams in the world."

Pragmatism has, indeed, been the watchword in the transfer market under Pochettino. He is £6.3 million in credit over his four windows on permanent fees spent and he has tried to be smart and extremely specific in his dealings.

He would like to have signed an out-and-out striker last summer or in January but the deals for players that he wanted, such as Saido Berahino, could not be concluded.

Given that, Pochettino has preferred to work with the players he has, and save the money for a signing that could make the difference.

"Our people need to understand that Tottenham changed their vision, not in terms of the football but in the way that we take decisions," Pochettino said. "For us, it is very important to keep the balance and find the right player, not only the strikers but in different positions.

"You need to realise that to improve our squad today is a very difficult job."

Tottenham go into today's Premier League home clash against Watford third in the table, with a goal difference of +25 - the best in the league.

Kane is the league's joint-second top scorer with 15, behind Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (18). Watford striker Odion Ighalo is one goal behind Kane and the Spurs defence must watch him closely today.

Pochettino played down concerns over Dele Alli, who was substituted at half-time in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Norwich, and hopes the midfielder will be fit today.

"We don't know why he was dizzy. We are not worried, we just need to assess him and to know why, but we are sure it is not a big problem," he said. THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

TOTTENHAM V WATFORD

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Good though tough times'. Print Edition | Subscribe