Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that right now Tottenham’s worst enemies are themselves, and that his underperforming team are “fragile.”
The Argentine is going through the toughest time of his five-and-a-half-year Spurs reign at this moment, with only three wins from his last dozen matches and speculation about his future refusing to go away.
For the first time, the former Espanyol and Southampton manager, who has constantly been linked with moves to Real Madrid and Manchester United over the last two years, admitted on Monday night his job at White Hart Lane could be under threat unless results improve.
Tottenham though, do not want to sack a manager who has unquestionably improved them over his spell in charge, took them to the Champions League final only last summer – and signed a new five-year-deal in May 2018.
But the Argentine said: “In this type of period our worst opponents are ourselves.
“We are in a period where we are fragile. Of course confidence drops to the floor – that is normal. It’s natural when you suffer a defeat like we suffered against Bayern Munich.
“But it is one thing when you are not good, and you lose 7-2 against Bayern and from the first minute to last you were so bad. But when you analyse the game, the first half should have been 3-1 or 3-2 to us.
“What happened affects confidence. But in the last five years this team has done a lot of good things. We raised standards so high. We are in our fourth season in the Champions League.
“Now it looks normal for Tottenham to be here. But five years ago it wasn’t normal. We need to face a different period – but the belief is there, and the faith. We need to stay calm. Of course there are rumours. It’s normal to people ask, are we training too much, are all tired? Our answer is to only laugh.”
But, the Tottenham manager, whose team could be in danger of not making the knockout stages of the Champions League is they do not win against Red Star Belgrade at White Hart Lane on Tuesday night, after taking only one point from their two Group B games so far, added: “People say expectation has changed after the Champions League final for this club. That is why this situation looks worse.
“The most important thing is to build our confidence again. We are conceding a lot of goals and chances and the results are not what we expect and of course that is our objective – to be a solid team again, and perform in the way we can perform.
“I am talking to the players collectively and individually. For many it is the first time they have been in a tough period. It is a good opportunity for them to grow and become mature. For sure we have the capacity and quality to turn this around.
“Players believe they need to run more, try too hard. Sometimes, though, it’s better to use more intelligence. In these situations the leadership on the pitch is so important. These periods happen. We must stay strong.”
Mauricio Pochettino will be boosted on Tuesday night though by having midfielder Christian Eriksen back after recovering from a dead leg.