Fans entitled to moan at my decisions, says Pochettino, after PSV thriller
Mauricio Pochettino had words of praise for Spurs fans after the Wembley win against PSV – even though he was subjected to an angry reaction to a key substitution..
The Argentinian has enjoyed a serene relationship with Tottenham fans since his arrival, and the style of play and progress under his leadership has won widespread approval from the diehards.
But many among them voiced derision towards their much-loved manager when he hooked Lucas Moura in favour of Erik Lamela, just past the hour, as Spurs trailed 1-0 to the Dutch champions.
His bold approach was eventually vindicated but the initial response from the stands was unusual.
“I understand,” said a sanguine Pochettino after seeing his side rescue their Champions League hopes with two Harry Kane goals in the last 12 minutes.
“After four and a half, nearly five years, I think it’s the first time, they were critical and weren’t in agreement with me, but in the end 2-1!
“It’s difficult always to take decisions. The fans are disappointed. They want to play with nine or ten strikers when you are losing the game, but we tried to find a solution – to find a different way to play.
“But I have nothing to say about the fans. I am so happy with the fans and I understand their reaction. Maybe if I’d been in the stand, my reaction would be the same.
“I’m grateful because again they are coming to Wembley to support the team and made the effort, like the team. I cannot ask for more.”
Spurs were far from their best, but chalked up 30 shots on goal against a stubborn PSV. They left it late, but now have their fate in their own hands again – albeit with the tough remit of beating Inter at Wembley later this month and Barcelona in the Camp Nou next month in order to advance to the knock-out stages.
“We have two games to play,” said the Tottenham boss. “If we are able to beat Inter, it will be seven points and seven points [for Spurs and Inter], then we have one to play and in one game anything can happen. We will see.
“Barcelona have qualified for the next stage and we are going to go to Barcelona to try and win the game. I think the belief is still there, and you know me, I am so optimistic.
“I think we were so close to winning in Milan. We deserved more. I think we played better than them and were unlucky in the situation where we conceded. But I think we can beat them. I am optimistic. Then the percentage to be in the next stage will be high.”
Pochettino was particularly pleased his side eked out a win as it was a fourth game in only nine days for them.
“We created a lot of chances,” he said. “We dominated the game and we showed some character. I’m so pleased with everything. Not only the effort. We had to be patient.”