Football

We are our worst opponents: Mauricio Pochettino

Spurs manager says rebuilding confidence is the absolute priority

Tottenham Hotspur's miserable start to the season shows little sign of ending, but ahead of the visit of Red Star Belgrade tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Spurs can take some solace from the fact they are in a better position in the Champions League than they were 12 months ago.

GROUP B
 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR RED STAR BELGRADE

Defeats by Inter Milan and Barcelona saw them travel to PSV Eindhoven for what manager Mauricio Pochettino described as a "must-win".

After a 2-2 draw in Holland, Pochettino admitted his side's Champions League campaign was "nearly over". Yet, eight months later, the Argentine led Tottenham to their first-ever Champions League final.

The hangover from that defeat by Liverpool in that final in Madrid has been long and sobering, reported AFP.

Spurs have won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions this season.

Chances of a first trophy under Pochettino via the League Cup have already gone after an embarrassing exit on penalties to fourth-tier Colchester United, and Spurs are already five points off the pace for a place in the English Premier League's top four.

The Argentine said yesterday that Spurs' current struggles are magnified by last season's fairy-tale Champions League run.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference ahead of the clash against the Serbian champions, Pochettino said: "The most important thing is that people say expectations have changed after the final of the Champions League.

"And for this group of players, that is why it looks worse, this situation. But 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...

"It is going to be important to have three points more, but the most important thing is to be solid tomorrow, recover our good feelings and perform the way we can perform...

WORST OPPONENTS

"In this type of period, our worst opponents are ourselves... When you're in a good period and full of confidence, everything is going well and it's easy to play because you have the talent and the quality to do so.

"When the tough moment arrives, sometimes it's not easy to connect with teammates and it's difficult to do the things that before you were doing so easily.

"For many of our players, it is the first time they are in a tough period. People expect something and they cannot deliver it to their expectations.

"This is new for them, but I think it is a good opportunity for them to grow and become mature in the future."

Harry Winks, 23, is one of those players who is experiencing his first real low spell for Spurs.

The academy product admits confidence is low at Tottenham, but insists that his teammates cannot "hide" in this "must-win" match.

He told The Evening Standard: "Rather than hiding, we need to relish these games, roll our sleeves up, go for it and try to get back to winning ways. We can always handle the pressure.

"We need to find a way of picking up results, even if it is just grinding them out without playing free-flowing football.

"We're not as confident as we want to be, but everyone's fighting for the cause.

"Tomorrow is a must-win."

Football