Former Tottenham midfielder David Gionala believes guiding the Lilywhites to the final of the Champions League last season proved to be Mauricio Pochettino’s eventual undoing at the club.
Spurs defied all odds to reach the final of the Champions League but fell one step short of being crowned European Champions after were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool in Madrid.
The team made a poor start to this campaign and were showing little signs of recovery having fallen to fourteenth in the Premier League table which led to chairman Daniel Levy parting company with the Argentine.
After reaching the final of European football’s most prestigious club competition for the first time in the North London outfit’s history, Ginola believes it increased expectations beyond the actual capabilities of the squad going into the new campaign.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “I think the worst-case scenario for Tottenham was to play in the Champions League final last year.
“I mean, it was great for the fans, great for the club, great for everyone at the club, but it put them on a stage when they weren’t really there yet.
“You think of other clubs who have been there year in year out in the last four years, then suddenly Tottenham come out and play in the final against Liverpool.
“That makes you a team people are going to watch and come to expect great things from.”
The Frenchman believed failing to win a trophy during his time in North London did not help Pochettino’s case and that it was inevitable that there was going to be a dip in form from the side this season.
He added: “You can’t forget that over the last few years Tottenham have been struggling to get trophies and that was the problem for Pochettino.
“It’s a shame because Pochettino did a great job but on the other hand because he wasn’t winning anything, people were complaining about that.
“I mean, they were doing great, but on the other hand they weren’t winning anything! But you play in the final of the Champions League and all of a sudden if you start losing games people say ‘oh what’s going on, last year we played in the final of the Champions League, this year we’re going to struggle to finish in the top 10 teams.’
“That’s the issue I think, they were too quick in getting to the final of the Champions League. You have to win things in your home country first before going abroad and winning trophies there.”
Finally, the 53-year-old implored the Spurs faithful to get behind their new boss, Jose Mourinho and insisted that the expectations have to be realistic in the short term.
Ginola said: “It’s all about expectation. In a few games last year, they were very lucky and reaching this sort of dream of playing in the final, for the fans, for the players, and for the club and everything.
“They started this season thinking ‘this year we have to do better’. Better is what? At least winning one trophy, at least a domestic cup or the league or something like that. This is my philosophy of why it went wrong.
“At the start of the season if you have one bad result it comes to your mind and people start thinking ‘what’s going on? We’re not playing the same way. Are the players concerned in the same way they were last year?
“Spurs have everything: A fantastic stadium, modern training facilities and one of the best set of fans in the country. But now they need to assemble a team that’s consistent enough to be able to play at the top-level year in year out.”
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Pochettino’s words leading up to the final certainly made it seem as if he was putting all of his eggs in one basket and some players obviously wouldn’t have been too pleased with his comments about leaving if Tottenham had won the trophy. I think just as the players are accused of having a hangover from losing the final, I don’t think Pochettino himself ever recovered sufficiently from that painful evening in Madrid.
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