Football: No need to buy to be jolly, insists Spurs manager Pochettino

Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino agreed that the title race was developing into a two-horse race.
Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino agreed that the title race was developing into a two-horse race.PHOTO: EPA/EFE

Spurs boss urges fans to be proud of current team with signings unlikely again in January

LONDON • 'Tis the season to be jolly and Mauricio Pochettino has urged fans to be more positive and cheer on Tottenham despite their lack of summer spending, saying that he wants to change perceptions of the club.

Speaking at a pre-match conference ahead of today's Premier League match at Everton, the Spurs manager said: "If we don't sign in January, people say we are going to struggle - it's all negative.

"They don't say, 'Tottenham didn't sign anyone because they believe they have the tools to maybe challenge for the title.'

"The doubt is always negative, never positive. We need to fight with this perception and to be proud of the team."

Despite all of their rivals spending in pre-season in their bid to win the league title, Spurs did not sign a single player - the first time a Premier League club failed to do so since the inception of the transfer window in 2003.

The club are also unlikely to spend when the window opens next month owing mainly to fees being used to build their new stadium.

Pochettino added that it was a shame that people criticised the arrival of Paulo Gazzaniga from Southampton last year, after the goalkeeper proved doubters wrong during the 2-0 League Cup win over Arsenal in midweek.

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If we don't sign players people say we are going to struggle - it's all negative. They don't say, 'Tottenham didn't sign anyone because they believe they have the tools to maybe challenge for the title.'

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, hits back at the doubters who question the club's recent lack of transfer activity.

"Look at the case of when we signed Paulo Gazzaniga, people criticise, 'Oh, he signed the third keeper'," the Argentinian said.

"The perception was, 'Oh, we cannot announce the player from Southampton because it looks like we don't have ambition.'

"It's a shame, because after 11/2 years, Paulo kept a clean sheet in the derby against Arsenal for the first time at the Emirates and he was fantastic."

Despite Spurs' lack of signings, the club have enjoyed their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign and are likely title contenders.

But Pochettino agreed that the title race was developing into a two-horse race - such is the form of the two teams above them.

"(Manchester) City and Liverpool are at the top. It is normal they're the two big candidates to win the Premier League," he said.

"Today, it's impossible to say if we are going to have the chance to fight for the title. The most important thing is to have the faith that we can compete."

Still, Spurs could close the gap in the festive season. After Liverpool's win over Wolves on Friday, Tottenham trail the leaders by nine points and City, who were shocked 3-2 by Crystal Palace, by five points.

But Liverpool face a tough run of festive fixtures with Arsenal at home on Dec 29 followed by a trip to City on Jan 3. Spurs in contrast, face a relatively easier time against Bournemouth, Wolves and Cardiff before New Year's Day.

Pochettino was also asked if he was eager to win his first trophy since he was appointed in 2014, with Spurs having made it to the League Cup semi-finals.

"Closer? I think it's a long way still," said the 46-year-old, who is contracted to Tottenham till 2023.

"I think we're playing against Chelsea over two legs and of course it's going to be our fourth or fifth semi-final in 41/2 years.

"But we're so far away. There's a lot of work to do."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 23, 2018, with the headline 'No need to buy to be jolly, says Poch'. Print Edition | Subscribe