Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino holds no ill feeling towards the Southampton fans that heckled him yesterday – chants successor Ronald Koeman felt were disrespectful.
All eyes were on the former Argentina defender at White Hart Lane as he took on his former club for the first time since ending a successful 18-month stint at St Mary’s to take the reins in north London.
Spurs deservedly ran out 1-0 victors thanks to Christian Eriksen’s 20-yard strike, ending a four-match wait for a Barclays Premier League win in what was an emotional reunion for Pochettino.
In the build-up, he called his time at Southampton the best period of his life and he clearly enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces in north London.
However, his affection was not reciprocated by the sold-out visiting support, with chants aimed at the Spurs head coach from the outset.
“I still love Southampton and maybe I can understand but this is football,” Pochettino said of the taunts. “I do not change my feeling, nothing about Southampton.
“For me it was a great moment, a great period of 18 months and always I will be grateful to Southampton Football Club and the people in Southampton.”
Surprisingly, Southampton counterpart Ronald Koeman was more forthright in giving his opinion of the chants directed at his predecessor.
“Yes, okay that is the reaction of the fans and I don’t agree with that,” the Dutchman said.
“I think everybody needs respect and normally the respect is high in the Premier League.
“I respect Mauricio very much and he did a great job in Southampton. Now he is the manager of Tottenham and it is a great challenge for him.”
Pochettino was full of praise for his successor after the match as well as Tottenham’s players, who showed they are adapting to the head coach’s high-pressing, attacking style.
“We arrived at a difficult period at Tottenham and the way played the last couple of years was different to our ideas,” he said.
“We know we need time to improve, to influence the players to put in practice a different philosophy.
“We need to compete in the Europa League, Capital One Cup and the Premier League, which is always tough when you need time on the training ground and training session.
“Always it’s more difficult to put into practice what we want, but I have no regrets about my decision. My decision is done.
“I am happy to be here and for the three points because it’s important for our confidence.”
The only negative for Spurs was a potentially nasty injury to right-back Kyle Naughton, who had to be taken off in the first half after being accidentally caught by Ryan Bertrand.
“I saw Kyle in the dressing room,” Pochettino said. “He was calm but now we need to scan him. We don’t know what happened with his ankle.”
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