Pochettino keen to keep watch on young talent

Tottenham striker Harry Kane will hope to score in today's FA Cup quarter-final against Millwall, the club where he spent a five-month loan spell as an 18-year-old.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane will hope to score in today's FA Cup quarter-final against Millwall, the club where he spent a five-month loan spell as an 18-year-old.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has spelt out a key aspect of his managerial approach - that he would rather keep young players and work with them in training than loan them out to play at other clubs.

Preparing for today's FA Cup quarter-final at home to Millwall, the Tottenham Hotspur manager was reminded that Harry Kane was sent to The Den as an 18-year-old in 2011-12.

It came when Harry Redknapp was in charge at White Hart Lane and it proved a success.

Kane credits the five-month spell at Millwall, during which he helped them avoid relegation from the Championship, as having turned him into a man.

The same sort of thing would not happen under Pochettino.

He identifies the academy players he believes have the chance of making it and concentrates on drumming his ideas into them.

In the early years it does not matter so much to him whether they play for the first team.

"In different periods something like loaning Harry to Millwall can work," Pochettino said.

"Nowadays it is not so important. I prefer to have our young players here and offer them the potential to be first-team players. If you don't get the opportunities to be involved with the first team it is best to move.

"But when you give those players the opportunity to train with the senior squad that is an even better experience."

One of the themes of Pochettino's press briefing on Friday was contending with pressure and maintaining focus for every minute of a match.

He stressed how important it would be against a Millwall team unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions and pushing for promotion from League One.

Pochettino also pleaded with Tottenham and Millwall fans to keep the peace today.

There is a history of animosity between the two sets of supporters, dating back to violent clashes in the 1970s and the last meeting between the teams in 2001 was marred by fighting.

Millwall were the subject of an investigation after hundreds of fans invaded the pitch after their FA Cup fifth-round win over Leicester last month.

"For me it is the first time I face Millwall, I hear a lot of things but I hope that all will happen in a really good way," Pochettino said.

"I hope nothing happens. I trust that our fans and their fans behave well, that is my wish because it is football."

As a long-serving club legend, Millwall manager Neil Harris hopes his team's name is not dragged through the mud again.

With White Hart Lane being gradually demolished to make way for Tottenham's new purpose-built stadium, this will be the last FA Cup tie at the famous old venue.

And Harris joined Pochettino in asking fans to ensure the occasion is remembered for drama on the pitch rather than incidents in the stands.

"As a club you want to paint yourself in the right light. It is a competition that has been good to us this year. We certainly want the focus to be on on-pitch activities," Harris said.

Having enjoyed shock wins over Watford, Bournemouth and Leicester en route to the last eight, third-tier promotion-chasers Millwall are aiming for their biggest upset yet.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Pochettino keen to keep watch on young talent'. Print Edition | Subscribe