Football

Pochettino: 
We need to live in the present

Tottenham boss calls for full focus on title race amid interest in his star players

CRYSTAL PALACE TOTTENHAM

Mauricio Pochettino has told Tottenham's players to keep their focus and the fans to trust his judgment amid mounting interest in the club's star players.

Spurs have been Chelsea's closest rivals in the Premier League title race and are the form team this year, having won seven games on the bounce before last Saturday's FA Cup semi-final defeat by the Blues.

Their performances have not gone unnoticed by Europe's elite teams, with Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Dele Alli all reported to be attracting interest.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has even suggested Alli is exactly the type of player his previous coach Pep Guardiola would like to sign for Manchester City this summer.

Pochettino said he could make no guarantees on the future and referenced last week's death of Tottenham Under-23 coach Ugo Ehiogu as an example of the need to live in the present.

"I cannot guarantee anything in life. The most important is to enjoy the present," Pochettino said.

"I am so sad, we have to enjoy the present and not think about the future.

"In the future, we take the best decision for the club.

"After three years, you can see how the team are improving every year and all our decisions so far are good.

"Trust in the club that we will take the best decision for the club to achieve, to improve next season again, that's most important.

"We care a lot about the club and now we must focus on the present to try to help the team and club to be there if Chelsea drop points.

"It will be special if in the last season at White Hart Lane, we win the Premier League.

"In the next three to four weeks, we must give our best, big efforts for all of us, for the players to try to focus, don't think about holidays, rumours, what will happen next season.

"I want the last three to four weeks the big effort from everyone to achieve.

"Then we can congratulate everyone and try next season."

HOPES

Tottenham's 4-2 defeat by Chelsea at Wembley means the club's hopes of winning their first trophy under Pochettino rest entirely on catching the Blues in the Premier League.

Their chances remain slim, but Pochettino hit back at the suggestion his players lack a winning mentality.

"I have no doubt," Pochettino said.

"It's important to have memory. The first season we arrived, we got 35 players and we started to rebuild the team during the season. Not to arrive, sign 10 players, put out another 12.

"We start to compete in the last two seasons. Last season, we finished third, the best place in the Premier League for Tottenham, now we are second and fighting with the big sides with a completely different project.

"The mentality is fantastic - to win always. But, when you compete with Chelsea, Man United, Man City, Liverpool - come on.

"The players deserve full credit and (you should) remove that idea because it's not true. They are winners. Another thing is to win titles, but they are winners."

Tottenham face an in-form Crystal Palace side at Selhurst Park tomorrow morning (Singapore time) and could by then be seven points behind Chelsea, who hosted Southampton this morning.

Rose is still recovering from a knee injury, meaning Ben Davies is likely to start at left back.

Pochettino played Son Heung Min there against Chelsea and the South Korean's rash tackle conceded a penalty in the first half.

"Son played in a position where we tried to be more offensive, tried to stop them in different ways," Pochettino said.

"The decision was to be more offensive, play in a way to win the game always. Ben is okay for tomorrow. He needed to rest a little bit." - PA SPORT

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