Pochettino frustrated with new stadium's delay

Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino watches from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium in London, on Feb 2, 2019.
Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino watches from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium in London, on Feb 2, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Tottenham's bid to gazump Manchester City and Liverpool to the Premier League title suffered a blow, after manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted it would be "tough" for the club to move into their new stadium this season.

Spurs are committed to playing at Wembley until March 2, when they host Arsenal in the north London derby, after which they have five league games left in the campaign.

While Spurs had hoped to open their 62,062-capacity ground on Sept 15 against Liverpool, they were forced to delay its opening after issues with the critical safety systems. The delays have helped to push up the cost of the facility to more than £850 million (S$1.4 billion).

At his press conference ahead of their home league game against Leicester today, he said: "My gut feeling (is that it is not ready), but I hope and I wish to be in the new stadium playing.

"My wish, my hope and my dream is to finish this season playing in the new stadium. We'll see if you can trust more in my gut or the capacity to finish the stadium before the end of the season."

Although Spurs have a deal to use Wembley for the rest of the term, fans have increasingly shown their reluctance to attend the venue.

The 29,164 attendance in the 2-1 win over Watford on Jan 30 was their lowest of the season.

Pochettino said that he understood their frustration, revealing he also wanted to leave Wembley as soon as possible.

The Argentinian said: "The people are going to be disappointed to play at Wembley, not because they don't like Wembley - we all love Wembley - but because we expect to already play in our new stadium.

"Did you see the last few games how many people were there? 30,000. I want to play in front of 60,000 - not 30,000.

"The 60,000 people in the stadium always help you to achieve three points and, for the fans, it's going to be a massive boost. That's going to translate to the team."

The 46-year-old also voiced his unhappiness at the league for not being more accommodating ahead of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at home to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

The German Bundesliga leaders have an extra day of rest as they played their league game against Hoffenheim yesterday, which Pochettino called "a massive disadvantage".

He told the BBC: "We are not receiving help. The Premier League must care about teams involved in the competition.

"In another country like Spain, Germany, France, clubs involved (in the Champions League) can be helped - the league is going to help you arrive in the best condition."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 10, 2019, with the headline 'Pochettino frustrated with new stadium's delay'. Subscribe