Win a must for Spurs after derby loss

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will always have a place in his heart for Southampton, his first English club. But for today, he is focused only on ensuring Spurs win to keep pace with the top four.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will always have a place in his heart for Southampton, his first English club. But for today, he is focused only on ensuring Spurs win to keep pace with the top four.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • While Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino still has a "soft spot" for his former club Southampton, today's Premier League meeting at Wembley will be strictly business for him.

The Argentinian spent 11/2 terms at St Mary's and led the Saints to an eighth-placed finish in the 2013-14 season. That was their highest league position in 11 years and Spurs were impressed enough to hire him that summer.

Southampton have regressed since his departure, languishing in 18th place currently and have yet to record a league win since Sept 2.

The club will also travel to London without a manager, having sacked Mark Hughes on Monday. Former Saints goalkeeper and first-team coach Kelvin Davis will take charge of the side on a caretaker basis, with Ralph Hasenhuttl set to take over on a permanent basis after the game. According to Sky Sports, the former RB Leipzig boss has agreed terms on a 21/2-year deal until 2021 and he is expected to be in the stands at Spurs.

However, despite the affection he has for Southampton, Pochettino knows he cannot be distracted by the turmoil surrounding the opposition, with Spurs looking to bounce back from their 4-2 defeat in the north London derby with Arsenal on Sunday.

At his pre-match press conference yesterday, he blamed "freshness" for their lack of competitiveness against the Gunners, but insisted his players were now "ready to compete" against the Saints.

"I care a lot for Southampton. Always my affection is going to be there with my first club in England. It had a massive impact in my life and I am so grateful," he said. "(But) we need to win."

TOTTENHAM V SOUTHAMPTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Win a must for Spurs after derby loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe