Pochettino perplexed, as Spurs surrender lead again

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United, on Nov 9, 2019.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United, on Nov 9, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted he is struggling to arrest his side's slide as Spurs surrendered a lead for the third straight Premier League game to draw 1-1 at home to Sheffield United on Saturday.

Son Heung-min's 58th-minute strike threatened to get Spurs out of jail, especially after a controversial VAR (video assistant referee) decision ruled out David McGoldrick's equaliser moments later.

But George Baldock's croses that found a way through into Paulo Gazzaniga's net did survive a VAR review to level 12 minutes from time.

"The reality is that, for different reasons, we are not showing the performances that we expect," said Pochettino, whose side have won just two of their last 11 league games.

"Overall, it's a fair result. The most difficult thing was to match their energy. I need to look forward and try to improve. We are not in a good position in the table."

Spurs looked back in the groove as they swept aside Red Star Belgrade 4-0 in the Champions League in midweek for their first away win in any competition since May.

But there was little sign of a side regaining their confidence throughout a disjointed display from the hosts. However, VAR once again took centre stage in the talking points of the match.

Such is the disquiet with VAR that Tottenham fans gave their Sheffield United counterparts a round of applause when they loudly vented their frustration at the technology.

Few in the ground could understand why McGoldrick's equaliser minutes had been disallowed.

It seemed a clear-cut goal when McGoldrick tapped home Enda Stevens' cross, but when referee Graham Scott put his finger to his ear the visiting fans' celebrations were put on hold.

Nearly four minutes later the goal was ruled out, apparently because during the build-up John Lundstram's big toe had been offside by half the width of a shoelace, if that.

"VAR is here to aid referees. But it affects the game. The length of time it takes. And they told us it must be clear and obvious (to be offside)," Sheffield boss Chris Wilder said.

"We need to have a big look at it in the summer... there were always going to be these issues."

Pochettino said he empathised with Wilder with the decision and added that "the line is so thin".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2019, with the headline 'Poch perplexed, as Spurs surrender lead again'. Print Edition | Subscribe