Pochettino focused on building Chelsea's future ahead of 'exciting' return to Tottenham

Argentine manager heads back to former club for first time since being sacked in November 2019 for Monday's Premier League encounter

Mauricio Pochettino takes his Chelsea side to former club Tottenham in the Premier League on Monday. Getty Images
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Mauricio Pochettino admits his first return to Tottenham Hotspur will be an "exciting moment", although the Chelsea manager insists his focus is on building a successful future with his new club.

Tottenham enjoyed their most successful period in recent years during Pochettino's four seasons as manager, with the Argentine guiding the North London club to the Champions League final and three straight top-four Premier League finishes, including a title challenge in 2016/17.

Pochettino was sacked by Spurs after a disappointing start to the 2019/20 season, just five months after a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the European Cup final, and on Monday will be reunited with his former club and its fans for the first time when he takes Chelsea to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"It is true we didn’t get to say goodbye, because in the moment that we left the club, it was also a difficult situation, a difficult moment," Pochettino said. "Now is the opportunity to go back and see many people that are still working there. It is going to be an exciting moment.

"It’s strange to go back because of the feelings after four years. For me, it’s going to be a happy day, but that is life and we need to move on. We are professionals about football but at the same time, we are human. We are people and we feel, it’s normal. We cannot forget, that is how we build our history."

Pochettino's return to Tottenham comes at a time when the club are enjoying a superb start to a new era of their own under Ange Postecoglou, who has led Spurs to eight wins and two draws in his first 10 league games. The Australian's is the best start to Premier League management in the history of the competition.

"Ange and all the coaching staff that I know very well, they are doing a fantastic job," Pochettino said. "Of course, they have very good players, a very good team, and you can feel they can be a contender for the title. Of course, it is early in the season, but they are showing the quality to be contenders.

"Like always, we cannot underestimate the opponent. Always our philosophy and our mentality is to see in which area we need to improve, while always paying attention to the opponent. Tottenham is doing fantastic, with amazing results and amazing performances, and they’re going to be a really tough opponent."

Both Chelsea and Tottenham endured miserable campaigns last season, losing 16 and 14 league matches respectively to miss out on European football.

While Tottenham have rebounded superbly, particularly after selling star striker Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, many of Chelsea's problems remain, despite another lavish outlay in the summer transfer market. The Blues head into Monday's match 12th in the table with just three wins from their first 10 matches.

However, Pochettino said comparisons between the two clubs and their progress this season are futile as Chelsea and Spurs are in different stages of their respective projects.

"In all the history of Chelsea, it is about winning big things. Maybe Chelsea now are with Manchester United and Liverpool as the biggest clubs in England, as Chelsea in the last 15 years won a lot of titles, but now we are in a different project, a different situation, that we are building something for the future," the Blues manager said.

"Maybe we struggle a little bit at the beginning because of situations we are not managing well. That is why we lose too many points. Maybe we deserve more because of our performance but because we are still so young as a team we are not managing these situations. But I am in no doubt that in the future Chelsea will be in the position that we deserve to be in because of the history."

Updated: November 05, 2023, 11:32 AM