Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino: ‘We showed we are more solid as a team’ after draw with Man United

A run of three straight league wins may have come to an end against Manchester United but, in the second half particularly, there were reasons for optimism for Hotspurs, writes Jonathan Wilson.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney challenges Tottenham Hotspur's Andros Townsend on December 28, 2014. Reuters
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney challenges Tottenham Hotspur's Andros Townsend on December 28, 2014. Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester United 0

Man of the match Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

LONDON // It is a slow process, but there is just a sense that Mauricio Pochettino is beginning to have an effect on Tottenham Hotspur.

A run of three straight league wins may have come to an end against Manchester United but, in the second half particularly, there were reasons for optimism.

Pochettino was, if anything, even more reasoned than ever after the game.

He is neither a ranter nor a raver, but there is a sense with him that the calmer he is the more satisfied he is.

He spoke of “a fair result”, and refused to rage about two possible penalties Spurs were denied in the second half, saying of both that replays suggested they were penalties but that he had not been sure at the time.

He must, though, have looked back on a late free-kick from Christian Eriksen that was saved by David De Gea, and at the chance Ryan Mason fired over after clever approach work from Harry Kane, and wondered what might have been.

His time at Spurs has very much been in his image, based on steady unspectacular progress, and it would not harm either his reputation or the team’s confidence to produce a marquee result at some point.

Pochettino was right, though, not to be disappointed given the balance of the game as a while. “We showed we are more solid as a team,” he said.

“Our performance was good. It’s true they had more chances than us but in the second half we deserved more.”

United had the better of the first half, Hugo Lloris making fine saves from Falcao and Robin Van Persie, and Vlad Chirches making a remarkable clearance off the line, but as the second half wore on, it was Spurs who looked the more likely to score as United wilted.

“When you play your best first half this season as United did – we are playing at White Hart Lane against a top-six club and we play like that and we create six to eight open chances then you have to finish that,” said Van Gaal, who clearly did not think the result had been fair.

“When you don’t reward yourself, normally the opponent wins.

“In the second half, there was no football any more – it was a struggle for life.

“Tottenham won the second balls and that’s why they were dominating in second half.”

That begged the obvious question of why Tottenham were less afflicted.

“The condition was for both teams the same,” said Pochettino.

“I never complain when the opponent is in the same condition as you.”

Van Gaal, though, was adamant that because of his side’s injury problems none of the three defenders he brought on in the second half could have started the game.

“They were tired,” he said. “We have to play within 48 hours a match – I don’t have possibility to change.

“We do not have the fittest players in the world. It’s scientifically proven that the body cannot recover within 48 hours so the second half was very different to the first half.”

He admitted that talk of a title challenge now looks a little fanciful.

“When you cannot win such a type of match when you are the better team,” he said, “then it’s very difficult to be the champion at the end of the season.

“But we are improving every week. I was very happy in the first half.”

Van Gaal has spoken repeatedly about how it would take time for his philosophy to take hold, a process that has been delayed by the injuries.

So when will we see a true Van Gaal team?

“Next season,” he said. “We shall be better: so watch.”

sports@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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