Blame the book? Tottenham coach rejects theory on slump
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 01, 2017 08:04 AM
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, centre, during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
LONDON (AP) — There is no shortage of theories to explain the recent run of poor results that has quickly turned Tottenham into an also-ran in the Premier League title race.
The dip in form of forward Dele Alli. The injury absence of defender Toby Alderweireld and midfielder Victor Wanyama. The continued issue of having to play "home" games at Wembley Stadium.
Or should Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino be looking a bit closer to home?
The slump — one win in the last five league games — has coincided with the release of Pochettino's book, "Brave New World," which documents his time in charge of Tottenham. He joined in 2014 from Southampton, and guided the team to third- and second-place finishes in the last two seasons.
The first extracts were released in mid-October and they detail private conversations with a number of key players.
Pochettino has denied that his bond with his players has been affected.
"I think my relationship with them is so strong and to find excuses about the book is wrong," Pochettino said. "It's a great opportunity to get a better idea that it's not only about playing football.
"When you are clear with everyone, the problem doesn't exist. The problem is when you lie, no?"
Whatever the reason behind Tottenham's slide, Pochettino needs to stop it quickly. The team slipped to seventh place, behind Burnley, after the midweek round of Premier League games following a 2-1 loss at Leicester.
Since the 4-1 win over Liverpool on Oct. 22, the team has also lost in the league to Manchester United and Arsenal and drawn at home against West Bromwich Albion, with the only win being a scrappy 1-0 against last-place Crystal Palace.
In that period, Tottenham has also been eliminated from the League Cup by West Ham, but has stepped up in the Champions League to earn back-to-back wins over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
The most likely reason for Tottenham's poor form might be fatigue amid a congested schedule in which the team has played big rivals in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Pochettino didn't significantly bolster his squad in the offseason — center back Davinson Sanchez, right back Serge Aurier and striker Fernando Llorente were the major additions — and he still relies on a core group of players.
Alderweireld is one of them, but he has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Nov. 1, affecting Tottenham's defensive organization. Christian Eriksen is another, and he may have been overworked in recent weeks after also helping Denmark qualify for the World Cup via the European playoffs.
"A player like Christian Eriksen maybe can be a little bit tired, but mental more than physical, because in the last international duty he played two amazing games to try to qualify for the World Cup, and he cannot rest, he cannot stop," Pochettino said.
"Maybe him and Eric Dier, that is playing a lot. Maybe Davinson Sanchez. It's the same group, the players that travel a lot and were involved in nearly all the games. Maybe they can feel a little bit tired about competing."
Tottenham visits eighth-place Watford on Saturday.