Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has demanded that his players show that they are worthy of progressing to the next stages of the UEFA Europa League.
His side will host KAA Gent in the second leg of the round of 32 in Europe’s second tier competition with the vistors coming into the tie with a one-goal advantage.
Spurs went into the first leg off the back of a poor defeat to Liverpool and looked to have carried the uncharacteristically bad performance into the European competition. However, a 3-0 win against Fulham, in the FA Cup on the weekend is sure to have boosted Spurs’ confidence.
Pochettino has commented that he can tell within “50 seconds” if his player have started the game with the correct mentality.
The Argentine discussed the idea that once the game has started it is difficult to change the mentality of the players and so has challenged his team to start of strong and prove their place.
He said: “When we start a game, if you only watch 50 seconds you don’t need to be a genius to see if we struggle or there is a problem in the game because we’re not focused” before continuing to add that “in that moment it’s too difficult to change.”
The manager went on to discuss that in the first leg of the tie he and his staff “changed the formation at half time to try to lift them but it was impossible.”
Pochettino also added that "the problem is when you don’t start in a good way it’s too difficult to change that perception and then you give a very good signal to the opponent that you are not focused on the game” and so “to change that mentality is too difficult during the game.”
Not an unknown
Pochettino also commented that he wasn't surprised by Gent’s impressive performance last week as “we watched many games abut them, we knew the quality and the (levels of) performance there.”
However, the Argentine did reveal that “the thing that surprised me the most was our performance” as “we were poor and they were better than us.” He then asked that his players to “try to be better and show that we deserve to go to the next round.”