Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino admits his job is on line

Press Association Sport 20:05 21/10/2019
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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino accepts his position will come under increasing pressure if results do not improve.

Spurs have endured a terrible start to the season, winning just three times in 12 games, which has seen Pochettino face scrutiny for the first time in five and a half years at the club.

The Argentinian says that he is not affected by speculation, and pointed to his lack of grey hairs as evidence, but knows the pressure on him will only get worse if his side cannot turn things around.

“The rumours happen in any club when you don’t win,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they are true and you need to care or pay attention about what has happened.

“But I understand it’s the business. I am 47 – look, why do you think that I don’t have white hair?

“Because I don’t pay attention to any of this. I only pay attention to what we need to do to improve our performance.

“And if we don’t improve our performance, what is going to be the result?

“Always the same in football. Yes, you are thinking the same as me.”

As well as the 7-2 humiliation to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Spurs caved to a 3-0 defeat at Brighton and needed a late leveller to draw with winless Watford at the weekend.

Pochettino said: “We are in a period where we are fragile like any team. In five years the team did a lot of good things, we put standards so high.

“Nearly all the players – 99 per cent of them – have enjoyed a good period at the club in the five and a half years we have been here. It had always been very positive so this, what is happening now, is a very new thing for us.

“But if you look at the history of Tottenham, now it looks normal for Tottenham to be in the Champions League but five years ago it wasn’t normal. We need to face a different period but the belief is there and the faith.

“It’s normal to have questions like, we train too much, we are tired, all the rumours that can appear. Our answer is to only laugh.”

Captain Harry Kane, sat next to his manager as he faced the media ahead of a crunch Champions League game with Red Star Belgrade, was asked to comment on a report that the players felt Pochettino’s training sessions were too demanding.

Kane had a chuckle with his boss and said: “There’s going to be speculation when things aren’t going well, when you’re not winning games, people will look from the outside for excuses.

“From our point of view we work hard every day. We have worked hard since the manager came here to improve as players and as a team, that hasn’t changed.

“We need to carry on doing what we have always done and that is keep working as hard as possible.

Kane did at least admit that this was the toughest period of his time in the Spurs team, having previously over-achieved.

“I’d say so. When you look at the results it’s not been easy,” he said. “Of course we all want to be winning games.

“It’s not going to be a straight path to success. There’s going to be bumps along the way. At the moment we’re at one and we’ve got to overcome that.”

Spurs’ hopes of reaching the knockout stages will be all but over if they lose to the Serbian champions.

They are currently on one point after two games and would fall five behind Red Star if they were to be beaten.

They should have Christian Eriksen back from a dead leg, though, while Pochettino also teased that one of Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon – almost certainly the former – will be involved after a lengthy injury lay-off.

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Joao Cancelo believes he is learning from best manager in the game at Man City

Press Association Sport 18:03 21/10/2019
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Joao Cancelo believes he is learning from the best manager in the game at Manchester City in Pep Guardiola.

Cancelo, a £60 million summer signing from Juventus, has started City’s last two matches after taking time to get up to speed with Guardiola’s demands.

Cancelo, speaking at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Atalanta, said: “When I came here I came here to learn. Pep is the best manager in today’s football.

“It’s true it took me time but it is important the club wins. When I finally had an opportunity to play I did well and the team won.”

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Little margins key if we want to win Champions League, says Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Press Association Sport 17:54 21/10/2019
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Pep Guardiola has called on his Manchester City players to show they have the mentality to win the Champions League.

The City boss said after the Premier League winners’ victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday his side were not yet ready to win Europe’s elite competition.

City are again rated among the favourites but in the past three years they have stumbled in the knockout stages and Guardiola feels there are mental hurdles that must be overcome.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Group C clash with Atalanta, Guardiola said: “I think the way we are really strong as a team has been built up from four seasons ago.

“But it’s more for the fact that two times in the Champions League we went out on away goals and in both games we conceded a lot of goals.

“In this competition you play against incredible players and, if you give some teams one moment, a metre, they will score. We have to know that.

“These little margins are sometimes the difference and we’re working on that. I believe that kind of situation is about the mentality.

“We’re good enough and we’re strong enough. When you play good, you defend less. When you don’t play good, you concede a lot.”

City beat Palace 2-0, bouncing back from their loss to Wolves prior to the international break, but Guardiola felt they should have won more convincingly.

The City boss does not believe his team are clinical enough, even though they are the top scorers in the Premier League by some distance. He also, although perhaps inadvertently, chose a strange example to illustrate his point – last month’s 8-0 win over Watford.

He said: “The Champions League will be won in the box and so far we haven’t been very strong in the box.

“We have made a number of mistakes that we shouldn’t make at this level. For example in the match against Watford we created a lot of opportunities but scored very little.

“But of course we have time. Tomorrow we have this chance to improve. We need six more points to qualify and tomorrow we can make an incredible step forward.

“We will see how we are in February in the latter stages if we are to go through.”

City are looking for a third win from three games in their group after victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb.

Atalanta are still to register a point but, as they sit third in Serie A and finished in that position last season, Guardiola expects a difficult contest against Gian Piero Gasperini’s team.

Guardiola, who used to play for Atalanta’s arch-rivals Brescia, said: “Having seen what Atalanta did last year and what they are doing this year, it is incredible. It is a great joy to watch his (Gasperini’s) team play.

“They are brave, they respect their supporters and they love the way they play. The way they play is quite unusual, they take a few risks.”

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