Pochettino not getting ahead of Spurs' good form

LONDON • The bit Mauricio Pochettino enjoyed the most was the one that many of his peers would have abhorred.

His Tottenham Hotspur side were three goals up against West Ham United on Sunday and the clock was ticking. They were deep into the part of the match when most managers crave nothing but control. They ask their players to keep the ball, keep their heads, kill the game. That, though, is not really Pochettino's style.

"We were three goals up in the last 10 minutes," the Spurs manager said. "We can manage the game, but instead we have our full-backs going forward, we want to score. And I like that, because you should always look forward, always try to play and to score goals."

It was that attitude that brought Spurs a resounding 4-1 win in a fierce London derby, and it is that attitude that has brought them to fifth in the English Premier League table, two points behind Arsenal in fourth and four behind Leicester City, the unexpected leaders.

It has helped Pochettino's side to remain unbeaten since the opening day of the campaign, and it is prompting questions about just how far they can go.

There is something about Tottenham this season, something beyond the restoration of Harry Kane's golden touch, now responsible for eight goals in the striker's past five games.

On Sunday, Kane scored twice and defenders Toby Alderweireld and Kyle Walker were also on target as Pochettino's team equalled the club record of 12 consecutive Premier League games without defeat.

The manager characterises Tottenham's strong showing as belief - "the most pleasing thing is that all the players believe in the way we play" - and with so much of it around, it was inevitable that Pochettino would be asked if his side might be able to mount a title push.

"It is early to speak about that," he said. "It is too far away; the end of the season. We are a young squad, we need to develop and be consistent. We have shown that we can be consistent, but for us to win the title, we need more.

"There is always something you can improve. It is difficult to guess today what will happen in four or five months."

For now, perhaps, it is safest to say that there is no obvious reason why Spurs cannot finish in the top four - that would have been their target in August- and, similarly, that there is not yet any evidence to suggest that pushing Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all the way for the title belongs in the realms of fantasy.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Pochettino not getting ahead of Spurs' good form'. Print Edition | Subscribe