Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes of winning a first domestic cup in nearly eleven years came to a crashing end in the space of four days.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino was heavily criticised over his team selection after Spurs’ 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The Argentine had made seven changes and handed starts to the likes of Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Kyle Walker-Peters, and Oliver Skipp.
Pochettino came out fighting in his post-match press conference and said that he had no choice but to make wholesale changes given that Spurs have a Premier League game against Watford coming up tomorrow evening
He also claimed that finishing in the top 4 was more important for the club’s progress than winning a cup competition. This statement certainly didn’t sit well with many experts and pundits, who accused the 46-year-old of having his priorities all wrong.
However, ESPN’s senior football writer and expert Gabriele Marcotti has leaped to Pochettino’s defence and insisted that the Argentine was right to rest players against Palace.
In his column, Marcotti wrote: “You can’t really accuse Pochettino of snubbing cup competitions when, 72 hours earlier, his team were only knocked out of a League Cup semifinal on penalties. Or when they reached the semifinal of the FA Cup in the past two seasons. Right now, this is a team without Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, with Chelsea four points back (and with a trip to Stamford Bridge later this month) and Manchester United behind them winning eight in a row.
“In two weeks, Tottenham have a round of 16 game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. But you want Pochettino to treat Palace away like a World Cup final? No? Then what? You want him to come out with lies and platitudes and nonsense instead?”
Marcotti also suggested that judging Pochettino on his failure to win a knockout cup competition is rather unfair given how far he has taken Tottenham.
He added: “Pochettino spoke the truth. The last Tottenham manager to win a trophy was Juande Ramos. Boy, that really moved the needle in the club’s history, didn’t it?”
“Oh, and by the way, the old trope whereby Pochettino can’t be any good because he hasn’t won anything is nonsense, too. You don’t judge managers who are so under-resourced, relative to the competition, based on a crapshoot like a knockout competition. You judge them on whether they out-perform their resources”
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