We have a point to prove: Spurs boss

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will make his managerial debut in the Champions League this season, and he believes that his players are motivated to play against the top teams.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will make his managerial debut in the Champions League this season, and he believes that his players are motivated to play against the top teams.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur are motivated by the desire to prove themselves against quality teams in the Champions League, manager Mauricio Pochettino has said.

The English Premier League club have been drawn against CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco in Group E.

"The Champions League is a big motivation for every player and with respect to the Europa League, it is not the same," Pochettino said.

"It is the top competition in the world and for that, we are very motivated to play in it.

"We are very excited because it will be my first opportunity to play Champions League football as a manager. This will be very exciting for me and for the players too."

Pochettino also played down Erik Lamela's show of skill during the club's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend when the Argentinian striker nutmegged former Spurs winger Andros Townsend.

"I understand Lamela's game - he is always trying things like this in training sessions. But for me, it is important to show respect to the opponent," Pochettino said.

"I don't like it when you try to humiliate your opponent. Lamela never tries to humiliate opponents - it's just the way he plays. But it is nothing to celebrate."

And the Argentinian manager knows it is not the right time to celebrate either, after his bid for Wilfried Zaha was rejected by Palace.

Palace chairman Steve Parish criticised Tottenham over their pursuit of the winger yesterday, branding their bid "ridiculous".

Parish claimed to have rejected an offer of £12 million (S$21.4 million) for the 23-year-old, who returned to Palace from Manchester United in February last year.

"We had a £12 million bid from Spurs - it's ridiculous. I can't imagine that they're serious," Parish said.

"I was told the manager there (Pochettino) thinks he's the next Ronaldo. Well I'd like to get the next Ronaldo for £12 million.

"There's no chance of Wilfried Zaha leaving the club in this transfer window. I can absolutely reassure every Palace fan he is an integral part of our plans."

Tottenham, who started their league campaign with four points from their opening two games, host Liverpool today.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline 'We have a point to prove: Spurs boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe