Pochettino critical of Spurs mentality after Monaco loss

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Spurs struggled to compete on two fronts – Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham’s players lacked the quality and mentality required to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League, says boss Mauricio Pochettino.

A 2-1 defeat at Monaco sealed their exit from the competition as they paid the price for their woeful home form.

Consecutive defeats at their temporary Wembley home had left Spurs with no margin for error and they duly came up short against a classy Monaco side.

“We need to improve our mentality and be ready every game,” Pochettino said.

“From the beginning of the season, I said our challenge was not physical, it was tactical – to manage your mind and to play on Saturday and then Tuesday or Wednesday.”

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Pochettino added he may need to add “more quality” to his squad.

“Our objective is to be competitive in the Premier League and Champions League but we need to show more,” he said. “Maybe after today, we see we struggle a bit.”

Tottenham were outclassed by Monaco at Stade Louis II, and only an inspired performance by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris prevented a bigger margin of defeat.

Djibril Sidibe’s header early in the second half sparked a stunning sequence of three goals in just five minutes, with Harry Kane levelling from the penalty spot only for Monaco to score the winner just 39 seconds later through Thomas Lemar.

It was Spurs’ third defeat in five Group E games, following reverses at Wembley against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, who have both now reached the last 16.


By Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer

All last season’s hard work in the Premier League was carelessly tossed away in Tottenham’s abysmal Champions League campaign, and the whole group phase has been a nightmare for manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs made Wembley their home as White Hart Lane’s capacity is reduced by a rebuild, but the tenants have never settled. The curse of Wembley – the loss to Leverkusen was their sixth there in succession – was perhaps a convenient excuse, though, as the more uncomfortable truth was revealed in Monaco.


Hugo Lloris was in fine form for Spurs but had no chance with either goal

Pochettino took a huge share of the blame from Spurs fans on Tuesday, and rightly so after a mystifying team selection. The Argentine knew Monaco were dangerous. He knew defeat would be fatal to their hopes. Yet still chose to gamble recklessly.

Jan Vertonghen’s presence was surely crucial, even more so with Toby Alderweireld injured, and yet he chose to leave the Belgian on the bench, pairing Kevin Wimmer with Eric Dier in central defence and picking Kieran Trippier ahead of Kyle Walker at right-back.

Spurs were hopelessly exposed defensively. Any hope of setting up a final Wembley hurrah against CSKA Moscow by getting a good result in France went up in smoke as they produced a display lacking in intensity, quality and resilience. It summed up neatly their efforts in the Champions League.

They have not been good enough and were not helped by a bad misjudgement from Pochettino.

‘They’ve been found out’

Former England international Phil Neville, part of the BBC Radio 5 live commentary team, described Spurs’ display as “the worst I’ve seen them play all season”.

He added: “They were wide open at the back, disorganised in midfield. The Champions League has been a real learning curve and they’ve been found out.

“They’ve made naive decisions in the Champions League and Tottenham are being punished. Positions you take in the Premier League don’t get punished. Here they do.”

Newspaper reaction


Tottenham get no mercy from the front of the Daily Telegraph’s sports pull-out…


…while the Times contrasts Spurs woe with Leicester delight…


…and the Daily Mirror goes for a touch of wordplay in the wake of the Monaco defeat

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