Committed Pochettino focused on improving next year

LONDON • Tottenham fans can look forward to at least another season under charismatic manager Mauricio Pochettino after he committed to staying on yesterday.

The 45-year-old - who cut his coaching teeth first in LaLiga with Espanyol and then at Premier League side Southampton - told a press conference that he could not leave even if he wanted to as there is no buy-out clause in his contract.

The Argentinian, a former central defender who was capped 20 times including at the 2002 World Cup, guided Tottenham to second in the league. This has led to reports linking him with the vacancy at struggling Serie A giants Inter Milan.

"There is no buy-out clause in my contract, I will stay here next season," he said. "There are many rumours, but I am committed with the club, no reason to leave the club. I will be here for pre-season."

Pochettino, who also guided Tottenham to the FA Cup semi-finals where they lost to Chelsea, said lessons had still to be learnt in order for the team to convert a near-miss into the title next season.

His side were eventual champions Chelsea's only serious challengers for the past weeks just as they were Leicester's last season before a drastic loss of form in their final few games allowed Arsenal to push them into third on the last day of the season.

They are assured of finishing runners-up this term and having north London rivals Arsenal below them for the first time in 22 years.

"We were so close again this season, but like last season it was not enough," said Pochettino. "I am sure next season we will try again to fight. We need to do better, be stronger, improve in every area to try to win."

Striker Harry Kane is convinced it will be Tottenham's turn to hoist silverware sooner rather than later because his coach has built a gifted group that revels in a team-first ethos.

"Everyone just has a special connection here. It's a special bond and I don't think you always get that at clubs," Kane said. "That has to motivate us to hopefully be out there next year lifting the Premier League together."

Tottenham are without Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker for today's trip to Leicester and Pochettino said he may change the formation for the game.

Having flirted with the prospect of relegation, Leicester, lying 11th, can finish as high as eighth if results go their way in their last two games.

"The players can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we want to finish as high as we can," said interim manager Craig Shakespeare. "We have got a great record here at the King Power Stadium. It will be more than an interesting game."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'Committed Pochettino focused on improving next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe