Spurs' drive to succeed

Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate after the match Action at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain, on April 17, 2019.
Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate after the match Action at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain, on April 17, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pochettino determined to repay chairman's faith and Bentley with EPL top-4 spot, glory in Europe

LONDON • In 2016, Daniel Levy gave Mauricio Pochettino a Bentley Bentayga as a "sign of appreciation" to him for turning down Manchester United, who went on to appoint Jose Mourinho.

With Tottenham having made history this season after reaching their first Champions League semi-final, one would imagine the club chairman is preparing an even more outlandish present, especially if Spurs go on to do the unthinkable and claim silverware this season.

However, Pochettino remains "fearful" that Levy will take back his £160,000 (S$282,000) gift.

Ahead of today's Premier League home match against relegation-threatened Brighton, where a win will boost their hopes of securing a top-four place, he jokingly called the luxury car "more like a loan".

The Spurs boss said: "We'll see if it was a present at the end of my contract here (which ends in 2023). I will tell you if it was a present or to only give me the facility to drive. Maybe on the last day, he says, 'Mauricio, give me the keys!'.

"We hope we can keep going, getting the same result. It is going to be fantastic and it is going to be helpful for us playing in the new stadium with our fans.

"We hope and wish to repeat the performances of the previous results... We are not thinking of Ajax (next week). Now our energy is in Brighton."

But, while Levy remains one of the more tight-fisted power brokers, having signed zero players in the last two transfer windows, he is keenly aware of the impact Pochettino has had, with Spurs punching above their weight in comparison to their bigger-spending rivals.

Securing Champions League football for a fourth consecutive season will help Spurs to fend off any would-be suitors in the summer, and defender Ben Davies has called on his teammates to "kick on and try to win every game between now and the end of the season".

The Wales international added: "That's the target and it starts against Brighton on Tuesday. It will be tough, they are fighting for everything... We have to be ready."

The 25-year-old is expecting the feel-good factor from their new £1 billion Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to continue to provide a lift, with three wins in as many matches, while scoring seven goals and conceding none.

In other good news, captain Hugo Lloris will return from injury, although Moussa Sissoko is ruled out.

It also bodes well that their opponents have failed to score in their last five league matches.

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton has been forced to defend his players, whom critics have accused of "downing tools".

He told reporters ahead of their trip to his former club: "Absolutely, that's not the case. We have to find formulas and pull out results to get the points that we need."

"I have lots of memories as a (Spurs) player and as a coach. How much I'll enjoy it will be down to the performance the team put in, but I'm hoping I can enjoy it."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'Spurs' drive to succeed'. Print Edition | Subscribe