Football: Spurs lacked desire, admits Pochettino after defeat by Newcastle

Tottenham forward Lucas Moura trying in vain to score with a bicycle kick during stoppage time of the Premier League match against Newcastle on Sunday. Newcastle won 1-0 to collect their first points of the season. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tottenham forward Lucas Moura trying in vain to score with a bicycle kick during stoppage time of the Premier League match against Newcastle on Sunday. Newcastle won 1-0 to collect their first points of the season. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Spurs boss blames team for shock defeat by Newcastle, not benching of unsettled Eriksen

LONDON • Tottenham had only themselves to blame for a shock 1-0 home defeat by Newcastle, said manager Mauricio Pochettino.

He refused to hide behind a late penalty call that did not go his way and his decision to again bench playmaker Christian Eriksen, whose future at the club is in doubt.

Joelinton's first goal for the Magpies gave Steve Bruce's men a first-half lead which they defended manfully to pick up their first points of the season.

Said Pochettino: "It's easy (to analyse), we didn't play well. I'm very disappointed about our performance and our result. Again we concede a very cheap goal in the first half and then it was difficult.

"We weren't capable to break down their organisation. We created some chances but not enough. We needed more desire, more aggression with the ball."

Spurs were saved by a stoppage-time handball call in a 2-2 draw the previous weekend, when the video assistant referee (VAR) intervened to chalk off a goal at Manchester City, just as he did with an offside call in the two sides' Champions League quarter-final clash last season.

DISJOINTED SPURS

You need not only quality players to create a very strong team, but also dynamic and bonding. At the moment, that is very far from what we expect.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, after suffering their first loss of the season.

On Sunday, it was Spurs' turn to feel aggrieved. Harry Kane appeared to have been felled by Jamaal Lascelles in the box and VAR did not overturn Mike Dean's decision to wave play on.

Newcastle had suffered defeats by Arsenal and Norwich in the first two games this season, with the second setback forcing Bruce to cancel a day off for extra training.

That work paid off as his disciplined and dogged team frustrated a Spurs side lacking in invention without Eriksen.

Eriksen, who has a year left on his contract and is on Real Madrid's radar, came on after 62 minutes but could not prevent his side from suffering their first loss.

Pochettino said he was unsure if the 27-year-old would play for Spurs again but did not think that benching him was key to the defeat.

Pochettino said: "With Christian we win and we lose a lot of games.

"If we'd won 3-0... no one talks about different names."

While the transfer window has closed for the English top flight, the window remains open in other top European leagues such as Spain and Germany until Sept 2.

"I can't find excuses about the transfer window being open to justify that performance or the result," Pochettino added. "You need not only quality players to create a very strong team, but also dynamic and bonding. At the moment, that is very far from what we expect.

"We know this can unsettle the group but we know in 10 days and things will be clear."

The away fans continued to voice their displeasure with owner Mike Ashley over a lack of investment that contributed to Rafael Benitez not extending his managerial contract after last term.

But there was finally some reward for the club-record £40 million (S$68 million) splashed on Joelinton as the Brazilian striker pounced on some awful defending from Davinson Sanchez to fire Newcastle in front on 27 minutes.

"Whoever followed Rafa, it was going to be a rocky ride," said Bruce, who was far from a popular choice as the Spaniard's successor. "The supporters can only witness the team today."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


Premier League talking points

1  RED DEVILS A WORK IN PROGRESS 

The stark reality of Crystal Palace's shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's overhaul of Manchester United remains some way from completion.

Jordan Ayew's opening goal for Palace exposed the flaws in defence even after the combined £130 million (S$221 million) spent on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

While it is far too early to panic, United have only one win from three games and it is questionable whether they have banished the defence lapses and lack of cutting edge up front that undermined them last season.

2  GUNNERS OUTGUNNED BY REDS

Club-record signing Nicolas Pepe made his first start for Arsenal at Anfield and demonstrated the trickery and pace that should see him form a fearsome front three alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

But the difference between the sides is that Liverpool's own stunning attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane is backed by arguably the world's best defender in Virgil van Dijk.

By contrast, David Luiz's deficiencies were cruelly exposed as he conceded a stupid penalty for a shirt tug on Salah before being embarrassed by the Egyptian for Liverpool's third goal.

3 VAR PUZZLEMENT

The Premier League set out not to overturn subjective refereeing calls using VAR unless a grievous error had been made by the official on the pitch.

That has been the case for penalty appeals. City were denied a strong claim against Spurs last week when Erik Lamela wrestled Rodrigo to the floor, while both the champions and Tottenham were denied after reviews on Sunday.

But offsides and handball are not being judged on the same criteria and are therefore far easier to overturn.

The two-tier system is proving confusing to players, coaches and fans, with no one clear what "clear and obvious error" means.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline 'Spurs lacked desire: Pochettino'. Print Edition | Subscribe