Pochettino relishing testing run


Mauricio Pochettino is in the midst of the most testing few weeks of his managerial career, but the Tottenham head coach is enjoying every second of it.

Over a 17-day period, the Argentinian faces the unenviable task of ensuring Spurs continue their top-four charge and a two-pronged attack on silverware.

Taking on Fiorentina for a place in the last-16 of the Europa League is tough enough, but that two-legged tie comes in a frantic period which includes three Premier League matches and, most importantly, a shot at silverware.

On Sunday, Pochettino will lead his players out at Wembley to take on Chelsea in the Capital One Cup final, with victory offering a wonderful way to cap an already impressive first season at the helm.

As a former Argentina international with experience playing in the top level in Spain and France, it is a high-pressure the Spurs boss is used to and a situation he thrives off.

“Yes, maybe (this is the biggest challenge I have faced as a manager),” Pochettino said. “Maybe yes. It depends.

“I think that it is a good challenge for us, for me personally, but I feel good. I am prepared to enjoy these moments.

“We have ahead a lot of very tough games and one final. I think it is good for the club, good for our supporters and for our players, too.

“But I don’t think too much. It is only to enjoy moment and try to prepare them in the best way for their next game.

“Always in football, you need to enjoy. If not, it is difficult to give your best.

“Football is emotion – you need to be in your best condition to play in your best level.”

As well as being mentally ready, the importance of being physically prepared cannot be underestimated.

Spurs have struggled in league matches immediately following Europa League exertions even when rotating the squad, underlined by Sunday’s 2-2 draw at home to West Ham.

That inability to balance domestic and European exertions has proved costly this season and could haunt them again at Wembley, with the showdown against Chelsea coming just three days after taking on Fiorentina in Italy.

“I think in the last period we’ve played a lot of games and I think now we are prepared to compete on Thursday and Sunday,” Pochettino said.

“I think we have improved a lot and changed the competition because it’s all in our mind. It’s because our physical condition is good, it’s excellent.

“But I think in the seven months we’ve been here we’ve improved a lot and we’re not worried about that. The team is ready to compete on Thursday and Sunday.”

Pochettino may have been working for the players for seven months, but it is nine since he accepted a five-year contract at White Hart Lane.

Upon his appointment, the Argentinian pledged “to give the supporters the kind of attacking football and success” they yearn for.

Tottenham fans have certainly seen a number of exciting glimpses of that so far, highlighted by the astonishing 5-3 New Year’s Day annihilation of Chelsea.

Pochettino is under no illusion about the difficulty in replicating that result – never mind scoreline – but it is a challenge Tottenham fans will be hopeful their manager can rise to.

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