Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham players have put 2015/16 meltdown behind them: ‘We have forgotten the past’
STOKE-ON-TRENT // Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham Hotspur players have shaken off the hangover of last season’s meltdown in the Premier League title race as they prepare to challenge on multiple fronts.
Pochettino’s side host Monaco in their Uefa opening Champions League fixture on Wednesday in the second of seven games in 22 days.
And after a low-key start to their title challenge, Pochettino says Saturday’s 4-0 win at Stoke City proves his players have moved on from last term, when they fell away to finish third after heading into the final weeks as title contenders.
• Premier League scores and round-up: Firmino fires Liverpool past Leicester, Tottenham smash Stoke
“We have a very hard season with the Champions League and everything and it’s important we have everyone competing,” he said.
“After four games unbeaten you can see the players are thinking about the new season and the new challenge.
“We have forgotten the past. It was tough for us, but we have worked hard to forget last season and refocus.
“We are up for the challenge, we are always optimistic and believe in our players, so why not go better than last season?”
An emphatic win saw Harry Kane end his goal drought, with the England striker scoring the fourth for Spurs and his first in 10 games for club and country.
It also made him the fastest Spurs striker to reach 50 Premier League goals.
“It was very important for him to recover the feeling of scoring,” Pochettino said.
“Strikers always worry when they do not score goals. He will be happy.”
South Korea midfielder Son Heung-min scored twice for Tottenham after being linked heavily with a move away from White Hart Lane in the transfer window.
And Pochettino conceded Son could have left White Hart Lane before the transfer deadline.
“Last season was tough for him,” Pochettino said. “We had to decide in or out in the window. It was difficult for us. The decision was for him to stay and I am very pleased.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes denied swearing at fourth official Jon Moss following his sending off in the first half.
Hughes was sent to the stands on a miserable afternoon for Stoke after reacting angrily to a yellow card for diving for winger Marko Arnautovic, and the English Football Association could now review footage after he appeared to remonstrate again with Moss after being dismissed by referee Anthony Taylor.
But he denied using abusive language towards the officials and revealed he had been sent from the dugout as part of a new Premier League clampdown on managers leaving their technical areas.
“I did not swear,” Hughes said. “I was sent off before I engaged with Jon Moss, so let’s put that to bed.
“I came out of my technical area. I was a bit upset. The assistant referee had not flagged for a foul [on Jon Walters] and the referee then thought it was the right decision to book Marko when he was taking evasive action.
“They were two decisions I thought should have gone our way.
“So I reacted in a forceful manner and came out of my technical area, which this year you are not allowed to do, and sometimes you forget that.
“Mr Moss, bless him, decided that warranted a sending off, which by the letter of the law it did. So I have to hold my hands up.”
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Published: September 11, 2016 04:00 AM