Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has challenged the Premier League to do more to help the cause of English clubs in the Champions League.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s last-16 match at Borussia Dortmund, where Spurs will defend a commanding 3-0 advantage from the first leg, Pochettino expressed frustration that the Bundesliga club had been allowed to play their preceding domestic game at Augsburg on Friday.
A battling 1-1 draw against Arsenal in Saturday’s north London derby followed for Tottenham and – in comments that recall prior complaints from the likes of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho – Pochettino told a pre-match news conference that the Premier League’s unwillingness to accommodate European commitments to the same extent in their own fixture planning left its teams at a disadvantage.
“If you play on Saturday [and Tuesday], how do you prepare?” he said. “The only way we can prepare is talking, not training.
“Dortmund, for the first leg, they had more time to prepare the game. Now it is the same. They played on Friday, we played on Saturday.
“To arrive in the same situation, both teams should play Saturday, or both teams play Friday. It is not the same to have 24 hours more or less to prepare the game.
“We need help from the FA. We need help from the Premier League.
“I don’t know who is to blame – the FA, Premier League or Tottenham? If it is impossible [and] we cannot change the games.
“Or if it is the TV, who want us to play live on the Saturday or Sunday?
“I think in Europe the people are more sensitive to help their teams compete in the best way in Europe. That is my point.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 4, 2019
The other main hindrance for Spurs this season comes from closer to home or, more accurately, their lack of a home.
They were due to move into the new White Hart Lane in September but the development is still not complete, resulting in multiple extensions to their tenancy at Wembley and an EFL Cup tie against Watford being played in Milton Keynes.
In this context, Pochettino marvelled at his players’ battling qualities as they stand on the brink of a Champions League quarter-final spot.
“We have warriors and players who are heroes in the way that they fight and perform, with all the circumstances,” he added.
“We are only here because of that. Our mentality is a Champions League mentality, a World Cup winner’s mentality.
“I think in different aspects maybe we need to improve more to fight more and win big things, but the capacity to make the effort, I think, in my last five years [in charge] the improvement is massive.
“We have more room to improve, but in this area the improvement is massive.”
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