MONACO • Mauricio Pochettino made the candid admission that his Tottenham Hotspur squad had found the group phase of the Champions League to be a step too far, as he suggested that changes on all levels, including personnel, would be needed to move them forward.
The manager watched his side lose 1-2 to Monaco on Tuesday to exit the competition and he was particularly upset by what proved to be the winning goal.
Spurs' Harry Kane had equalised from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute, just four minutes after Djibril Sidibe had put the home side ahead, but Monaco swept forward direct from the kick-off to restore their lead through Thomas Lemar.
Tottenham remain unbeaten after 12 games of the English Premier League season, but Pochettino said they had failed to balance the demands of what he considers to be the toughest division in the world with those of the Champions League - where they recorded their third defeat in five games .
"We are unbeaten in the Premier League, but to compete in the Champions League was tough," the Argentinian said.
"Maybe next season, if we are in the Champions League, we need to make some changes.
"To be competitive in the Champions League, we need to show more. Maybe we need to add more quality in the squad. We have quality, yes, to compete in the Premier League but you could say we struggled a little bit today.
"When you have problems, injuries, it is difficult to be competitive. At the moment, to compete in the Champions League and the Premier League, we struggled a bit."
Tottenham's exit from Group E has been characterised by errors at both ends of the field and by a lack of ruthlessness.
"The challenge is not physical and tactical - it is to manage your mind," Pochettino added.
"To play Saturday and then Tuesday or Wednesday is like playing continuously in the Premier League. We struggled to be ready.
Pochettino said he simply could not explain the collective switch-off for Lemar's goal but it was the latest example of Spurs' lack of focus.
"It is difficult to explain the way we conceded the second goal," he said. "If you want to go to the last 16, you cannot concede a goal like this."
Monaco go through to the next round from the group along with Bayer Leverkusen and few sides will fancy coming up against Leonardo Jardim's side in the last 16.
"I am very happy to be through and to have won the group but also with the performance of the team. I think we played really well," said the Monaco coach.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE