Spurs set sights on winning a trophy

Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino awaits kick off in the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino awaits kick off in the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. PHOTO: AFP

Pochettino targets silverware after his team get Champs League spot for 3rd straight year

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino described a return to Champions League football at the club's new 62,000-capacity stadium next season as "massively important" after securing a top-four finish on Wednesday.

Spurs qualified for Europe's elite club competition for a third consecutive season after Harry Kane's winner in a nervy 1-0 Premier League win over Newcastle, which ensured they will finish as the top London club for the first time in 23 years.

Victory also moved Pochettino's men above Liverpool into third, and he believes their success this season is even more laudable, having played the whole campaign at a temporary home in Wembley.

"It was a real quality season for the group to achieve the top four - a massive achievement. For the club, (it) is a massive thing to move to the new stadium and play Champions League," said the Argentinian.

"It will be another massive challenge because it will be the same as playing in Wembley. It will be a fantastic stadium but you need to make the stadium your home."

Despite undoubted progress in his four years in charge, Spurs have still yet to win a trophy under the 46-year-old.

BUILDING ON THEIR ACHIEVEMENT

It is the first time in 23 years in the Premier League (that) Tottenham is above (all) the (other) London clubs. Next is the trophy but you need to build. We are not a club that (has) won a lot in the past years.

'' MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham Hotspur manager, on taking the next step and delivering silverware at the club for the first time under his guidance.

He said silverware is the next challenge, having established Spurs as a regular top-four contender.

"The first step is to be competitive, to reduce the gap with the top four and that was the challenge four years ago.

"Now, it is the first time in 23 years in the Premier League (that) Tottenham is above (all) the (other) London clubs.

"Next is the trophy but you need to build. We are not a club that (has) won a lot in the past years," he said.

Spurs had won just one of their previous five games as a late-season slump threatened to cost them a place among European football's elite next term.

The importance of Champions League football and the money it brings cannot be overstated, given the rising costs of their new stadium which, according to British media reports, could skyrocket to as much as £1 billion (S$1.8 billion).

In their penultimate match at their temporary home, the hosts were indebted to good fortune and wayward Newcastle finishing.

Jonjo Shelvey smashed a free kick off the post, while Jamaal Lascelles and Dwight Gayle all had decent opportunities to score before Kane settled Spurs' nerves five minutes into the second half to curl home his 39th goal of the season.

Spurs survived a few more scares, with both Ayoze Perez and substitute Jacob Murphy fluffing their lines, but the Magpies ultimately failed to take their chances, and there was a palpable sense of relief that washed over the stadium at the full-time whistle.

The only black mark on the night for Pochettino was Kieran Trippier after the defender suffered a knee injury during the match.

Pochettino added that he was "concerned" about Trippier, who has established himself at Spurs this season with 34 appearances across all competitions, but hoped the England international would be "ready and fit to play at the World Cup".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2018, with the headline 'Spurs set sights on winning a trophy'. Print Edition | Subscribe