Mauricio Pochettino wants Tottenham to show they have learned from last season’s heartache as they prepare to start their Premier League campaign against Everton.
Spurs were the closest challengers to surprise champions Leicester City but faded in the final weeks, with a final day thrashing by relegated Newcastle United ensuring they also lost north London bragging rights by finishing below neighbours Arsenal in the race for second spot.
Nevertheless, Pochettino is confident his players can improve on their most recent efforts and is excited by the challenge of Champions League football.
“That is our challenge, to compete better and to achieve another level,” he told a news conference. “This is very hard because we are nearly on the top and we are sure that the competition will be tough.
“Our impression from the different teams is that it will be very hard but we trust in our possibility and our skills.
“Every season there are a lot of clubs that can be contenders for the title. You know how the teams have spent money and maybe you can put a team on the table from one to 20.
“But I think you never know. Football is not mathematic and is not an ordinary business.
“I am very happy with my squad and the players we have added – Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen – and with the young players who have showed a lot of quality in the one or two months they have been involved with the first team.”
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He added: “I expect us to respond. Also as a coach and a manager, you can learn and improve from your mistakes.
“I think we have a big chance now to repeat our performance, improve and play in the Champions League.
“For a lot of players it is a new competition. It is true that we will spend more energy than playing in the Europa League and we need to deal with this in a different way than last season.
“But it is exciting for us. You can feel that all the players in the changing room are excited to start to compete.”
Pochettino, who received a fitness boost with the news that Jan Vertonghen will be ready for the trip to Goodison Park after ankle ligament damage ended his participation at Euro 2016 with Belgium, has overseen a quiet close-season in the transfer market, aside from adding Wanyama and Janssen.
He believes “one or two” more signings are possible and hopes these efforts will not be hindered by Paul Mitchell’s departure – the head of recruitment who announced he would leave White Hart Lane this week amid reported frustration with the club’s transfer policy.
“Nothing changes for the moment,” Pochettino said. “He is still working with us and will carry on. We need to finish the three weeks working together and try to do the best business for the club.”
“It is his personal choice. We have a relationship from Southampton and I feel very disappointed. When a person makes a decision and it is personal, what can I do?”