LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino is convinced Erik Lamela is finally ready to fulfil his potential after the revitalised winger fired Tottenham to a 1-0 away win against London rivals West Ham on Saturday.
The Argentinian, who has flattered to deceived since signing from Roma for £30 million (S$54 million) in 2013, struck with a cool first-half header at the London Stadium to give Spurs their fourth successive Premier League victory and lift them into the top four.
It was also his fifth goal in just eight appearances in all competitions this season and Pochettino hinted that his compatriot, who was making his first league start this term, was winning his "trust".
Lamela's influential display underlined his improvement since returning from over a year of injury problems that required surgery on both hips.
Pochettino believes that on current form, the 26-year-old is one of the first names on his team sheet.
"The form of the player sometimes changes. The most important thing is to trust him," Pochettino said. "We believe in him. He's more mature, more relaxed, calm in front of goal. That's the key."
With Spurs chasing silverware on several fronts, the manager challenged Lamela to maintain his form for the rest of the season.
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"He needs to be consistent. To manage things in the right way and understand where he came from. He had a lot of injuries in five years with us. The last two seasons were tough for him. But we are patient and take care of the player," the 46-year-old added.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola also challenged his frontline to be even more clinical despite a 5-0 mauling of Burnley at the Etihad that sent the team back to the top of the league on goal difference.
Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane were all on target for the champions, and City already have a better scoring ratio than last term with 26 goals from nine games this season.
But the Spaniard is not content for his side to rest on their laurels. "We had 24 shots, 10 on target," he said. "We are averaging 21 shots per game - we are the best side in Europe in shots.
"But we have to increase our on-target (shots) because we created enough chances to score more goals."