Mauricio Pochettino has refused to blame playing at Wembley for Tottenham’s Champions League defeat to Monaco on Wednesday, revealing the competition’s famous anthem nearly made him cry.
Tottenham are playing their European matches at Wembley this season as White Hart Lane is being redeveloped.
Pochettino hailed the atmosphere of a club-record attendance at the match and was at a loss to explain his team’s unusually flat performance.
“Sometimes you need to explain the reality,” he told reporters ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Sunderland. “The reality was tough to explain. They faced it, and I look at myself too.
“I didn’t know how to get the motivation to play on Wednesday night. Maybe I put myself in question too. We share responsibility but we cannot repeat. You can lose, not play well but never concede two goals like we conceded.
“It was a collective problem, not an individual problem. I was the first one guilty in this situation. When we wait six years, many times to play Champions League, after 45 mins you can’t go to the changing room with this feeling.
“We had 90,000 people in front of us, waiting for us to play. The atmosphere was amazing. We nearly cried before when you hear the song from the Champions League, it’s a dream come true.”
Despite the defeat, Pochettino said his side performed at a higher level than Monaco, who won the game thanks to goals by Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar, and backed his team to qualify.
“I think the first half was difficult to manage because I felt very bad afterwards,” Pochettino said. “The second half was much better, we played in a way we normally play. We deserved more.
“In the second half we showed a lot of passion and we played very well. [Monaco] didn’t shoot, they had zero corners and I was happy with our performance.
“Only in this 45-minute period, we didn’t show passion. Why? This is my big question – and not only me. We all have in our minds, why?
“In the end we were much better than Monaco. If you give them a present like we gave it’s impossible to come back again and get a result.
“No excuse, it wasn’t Wembley that was the problem, it wasn’t the pitch that was the problem, we were the problem and we need to be very critical with ourselves.
“We have time to win games, we have the possibility to go to the next round. It’s early days.”