Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, is adamant he wants to move into the club’s redeveloped White Hart Lane home before the end of the season, even if that meant returning ahead of the final game of the campaign.
Pochettino has been forced to contend with another delay to the new stadium’s planned opening following the announcement this week that the meeting with Arsenal on March 2nd would be played at Wembley.
With just five home league games to come after the north London derby, there is a growing possibility Spurs will see out the season in their temporary home, but the manager insists he wants to switch back if at all possible.
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“My opinion is: Move,” he said: “If we can play one or five games, I want to move. If the club or Daniel [Levy, the chairman] ask me on the final decision, my final decision is to move to play there. Today they know I want to move. But today is only an opinion. If the moment arrives to make the final decision, it is not a problem. I am going to say yes to move and be responsible and get the blame – it is not a problem.”
Pochettino is convinced a switch would be advantageous to his side, even if Spurs remained in contention for the Premier League title ahead of the home fixture with Everton on the final day of the season. Presented with that scenario, he said: “I move. I take the risk and move. I am brave.”
He added: “Most of the clubs would prefer to play against us at Wembley. When you have the capacity of 90,000 and you play in front of 30,000 I think it is a massive advantage for the opponent. If you remember the last season at White Hart Lane and compare it to that last season, Wembley, our record is not as good. I always prefer to play at home and in my stadium and my house.”
Pochettino admits his side have no margin for error if they are to harbour hopes of clawing back the five-point gap to Manchester City and Liverpool, the top two, starting with tomorrow’s (SUN) visit of Leicester City to Wembley.
The anticipated return of Harry Kane, possibly for next weekend’s meeting with Burnley, and Dele Alli means Spurs should be significantly strengthened during the run-in after a period when they also lost Heung-min Son to international duty, but the manager insists that cannot divert focus from the immediate task in hand.
“The most important thing is to get the three points,” he said. “Then as we go it will depend on players’ recovery. With Dele and Harry hopefully coming back soon that will give us more capacity to manage the squad and players. And that will give us the capacity to be more powerful.
“But for me the most important game is this one – we must win. It’s like a cup final. I know no-one will agree with me but in my mind this game is key if we want to be there fighting until the end.”
He added: “The last game against Newcastle Llorente was the only offensive player on the bench, and then all midfielders or defensive players. And of course you need the capacity from the bench to change the game. And recovering Sonny and, as soon as possible, Harry Kane and Dele Alli, we are going to have more possibilities to change the team and of course to have the capacity to change the game.”