Pochettino says he has ‘too many players’ at Tottenham
22:38 09 August 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Mauricio Pochettino says he has “too many players” at Tottenham and that he is more interested in trimming his squad than adding to it.
Spurs have around 30 senior players in their ranks and, although Under-21 players would not need to be named in the 25-man Premier League squad to be eligible, Pochettino is keen to streamline his squad.
Asked how many players he needs to sign before the end of the current transfer window, the new head coach said: “Not many, not many. We have a long, long squad.
“I think we need to take a decision now to decide how many players to keep, because we have more than 25. For me, it’s too many players. My idea is 25, no more than 25.
“We need to decide now, after our tour in America, and start to work here and decide our squad for the future.”
Tottenham will be fighting on four fronts this season, including the Europa League.
Earlier in the year, when he was in charge of Southampton, Pochettino said the tournament “kills” teams and “it’s not a competition that appeals to me”.
He has changed his tune since moving to White Hart Lane, stating that Spurs will be seeking to win every available trophy.
However, he stopped short of saying he would field his strongest side on the continent, underlining the importance of squad rotation.
“In every competition that we enter, we need to think ‘we win the competition’,” he said. “We need this mentality and, if we play in the Europa League, we need to play to win.
“We have a very good squad, we have 25 players, and you decide in every moment to choose the best players – the right players – for each game.
“We have a good balance in the squad and it is important to manage the different players, because it is impossible to play with 11 players all season.
“You always have injuries and you need to give some players time to recover. For that, you need a good balance in your squad and competition between them to improve our level.”
Spurs’ primary goal in recent years has been a top-four finish and Champions League qualification, but Pochettino says his immediate priority is to establish a new philosophy and style, ideally combined with good results.
“I don’t have any specific target,” he said. “Tottenham is a big club, you always need to win every game. But, at the moment, we need to develop our philosophy, our style.
“It’s true that our style is playing attacking football, pressing high, and giving our fans enjoyment of the game. Then you need to get results.
“We need to play to win but in our style and our philosophy - keeping the ball and playing forward - and never changing anything, whether you play Real Madrid [or someone else].”
As he prepares to begin the new season with Tottenham, Pochettino is hoping to follow in the footsteps of two of his countrymen – Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa – by becoming an Argentine Spurs legend.
“I met with them, with Ossie and Ricardo Villa, the last game we played at White Hart Lane with Southampton,” said Pochettino. “For me, it’s an honour to be here.
“I was six years old during the 1978 World Cup [which Argentina won on home soil]. I watched the game on a black and white TV, it was unbelievable.
“Ossie is in love with Tottenham and he’s an idol here. All he told me about Tottenham was great, unbelievable. When I arrived he said ‘well done’. He’s happy, and now I can invite him to a barbecue at my house to spend time with him.”
One of Pochettino’s briefs will be to get the best out of some of last summer’s signings such as his fellow Argentine Erik Lamela and Spanish striker Roberto Soldado, who both endured disappointing campaigns in 2013/14 – but the new boss feels a lot of people underestimate the difficulty of moving to the Premier League.
The head coach said: “I hope that all our squad improves but it’s important to know that Soldado and Lamela – all the players who arrived from a different league – when they don’t speak the same language, it’s difficult to adapt.
“For me it was the same. When I was in Spain I thought ‘England, it’s okay, the league - it’s competitive’. But when you arrive you say ‘oh it’s hard, it’s very hard’ - and then you realise that it’s the most competitive league.
“When you stay outside you say ‘it’s easy. It’s easy to play there, easy to manage there’. But when you arrive, you say ‘this is impossible to compare’. It’s not the same. Here, it’s hard.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs