Mauricio Pochettino fears home defeat shatters Spurs’ spirit for Ajax

Mauricio Pochettino feared that the 1-0 home defeat by West Ham had not only inflicted a blow to Tottenham’s top-four hopes but changed the mood at the club before the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Ajax on Tuesday.

Michail Antonio scored the goal for West Ham, which was the first Spurs had conceded at their new stadium, and it was also the first time in five matches that Pochettino’s team had done anything other than win here.

“I am disappointed because it’s a setback,” Pochettino said. “We wanted to win the three points to be in a good position and arrive in the Champions League game in a very good mood and good way.

“The feeling for everyone has changed quickly. After the win here against Brighton on Tuesday everyone had a very good feeling – that we are having a fantastic season and we are going to arrive in our best condition. But after our defeat today it’s like we will arrive the complete opposite.”

Pochettino reported that Harry Winks would not be available for the first leg because of a groin injury and he would need to assess Moussa Sissoko, also carrying a groin problem. He added that Jan Vertonghen, whom he rested against West Ham, would be fit.

Spurs looked tired and uninspired during the second half, when West Ham powered to a deserved win, but Pochettino claimed the spectre of the Ajax tie had not been a factor. He did mention the “circumstances” with which his team must compete – in other words, a fixture schedule that has come to feel remorseless.

Ajax, by contrast, have been granted the weekend off after the Dutch Football Association postponed the entire Eredivisie programme.

“We cannot say now that the players were thinking about Tuesday,” Pochettino said. “When the stress arrives, the fatigue arrives – that is our reality, no? We are a very competitive team when we are with full energy. But of course the stress and the fatigue arrives. We are competing with circumstances that are not the best.

“There is nothing to say because the effort is there and it’s fantastic. Of course, it’s a little bit unfair in the way we arrive in the competition [against Ajax] but we need to accept that and what can we do? We cannot change anything. We need to accept that and try to be strong.”


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