Mauricio Pochettino is not losing sleep over letting down those Tottenham players who will not feature in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final, insisting they need to know he is the boss.
Spurs face London rivals Chelsea at Wembley looking to win their first trophy since a 2-1 victory over the Blues in 2008 in the same competition.
Pochettino’s side have now played more games than any other Barclays Premier League side this season, with Thursday night’s 2-0 Europa League defeat to Fiorentina their 44th fixture.
During that time the Argentinian has shuffled his pack but, with no more FA Cup or European commitments, he can now focus fully on Sunday’s cup final.
There will be several key decisions to make in the hope of beating Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, with a toss-up between Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm for the goalkeeper position just one of an intriguing number of battles.
Lloris has been in fine form this season but Vorm has played throughout the cup run and, with decisions on central-defensive partnerships and which attacking talent to deploy, Pochettino will have been nursing some serious headaches in the build-up to his first English final.
But the 42-year-old will not be selecting a team on sentiment and nor will he have any qualms in telling those who have not made his side that they have missed out.
“Always it is a difficult moment,” he said.
“Players want to play always and in all competitions. Every time you pick the starting XI or the squad of 18 it is always difficult to communicate to the players who are not in the squad. But this is football, this is our job and us and the players need to understand always about my decision.
“In each game and every game I take a decision and analyse which is the best side to pick. It’s not a different rule for the final. The players, like on the first day, need to understand that I am the boss.
“I decide the squad, I decide the starting XI and I decide who plays and who does not. It is true that it is a final and an important game but the players need to accept my decision.”
Pochettino is the fourth manager to take control of Spurs since Juande Ramos was sacked just eight months after delivering their last piece of silverware.
Harry Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood have all paid the price for not delivering the results expected by chairman Daniel Levy – but the current incumbent insists he does not feel burdened to deliver in his first season.
“No I don’t feel the pressure,” Pochettino said.
“I never feel the pressure from the beginning. In the difficult moments I don’t feel the pressure. For me, the job is to improve the football and get the victory.
“With Daniel, I have a good relationship and he has never put pressure on me to get a trophy or achieve an objective because he knows we are more ambitious than in the short term. Always we play to win.”
Any pressure Pochettino does feel may come in the knowledge that the game will be broadcast live in his home town of Murphy in the Santa Fe province of Argentina – as Tottenham’s popularity in the country continues to be strong.
“Tottenham are famous in Argentina because of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa but there is always interest in the Premier League because it is the best league in the world,” he added.
“Now I am here and (Erik) Lamela is here the interest is bigger. The whole town – 4,000 people will watch the game because all our games are on live in Argentina.”
So, with 4,000 compatriots, chairman Levy and every Tottenham fan across the globe focusing on Sunday’s game – Pochettino will be hoping it is the players on the pitch – and not those who miss out – who are talked about at full-time.
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