Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham’s squad was too thin to cope with the demands of the Champions League.
Spurs’ hopes of progressing to the last 16 were dashed after a 2-1 loss to Monaco left them three points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen, with whom they have an inferior head-to-head record.
Harry Kane gave the visitors temporary hope when he cancelled out Djibril Sidibe’s opener with a penalty but a third goal in four second-half minutes from Thomas Lemar sealed the French side’s victory.
Hugo Lloris, again his side’s stand-out performer, had earlier saved a spot-kick from Radamel Falcao.
The result caps a miserable campaign for Tottenham, who have taken just one point from their four games against Monaco and Leverkusen, while losing both of their home matches at Wembley. On Saturday Tottenham look to keep their unbeaten run intact when we travel to Stamford Bridge with the fact that the bookies predict a Chelsea win making it even more of a pressured game for fans.
Injuries to key players have certainly played a part and Pochettino said his squad would need strengthening if they are to avoid similar disappointment in future.
Vincent Janssen and Moussa Sissoko, two summer signings yet to fire, both came on in the second half but neither were able to turn the tide.
“Maybe after five games we do not show enough quality to share two tough competitions in the Premier League and Champions League,” Pochettino said.
“Our objective is to be competitive in the Premier League and Champions League but we need to show more, maybe to add more quality in our squad.
“We have quality, yes, to compete in the Premier League but maybe to share both, maybe after today we see we struggle a little bit.
“When you have some problems it is difficult to be competitive in both competitions.
“I am upset with that game and the way we conceded goals but in the same way I am quiet and calm because our project is not finished today.”
While Monaco are now guaranteed to go through as group winners alongside Leverkusen, Tottenham can still secure third place and qualification for the Europa League with a draw at home to CSKA Moscow next month.
The second-tier tournament, however, has proven a nightmare to juggle with the Premier League in recent seasons, but Pochettino dismissed the idea that missing out might prove beneficial.
“It is good for the club to go into the Europa League and try to go further in the competition. I think it’ll be good,” Pochettino said.
“Remember last season we played against Borussia Dortmund and we struggled a little bit. That level was like Champions League.”
Jan Vertonghen was left on the bench, perhaps with Saturday’s grudge match against Chelsea in mind, given he will be the only left-back available while Danny Rose is suspended domestically and Ben Davies out with an ankle problem. Pochettino confirmed after the match, Vertonghen had not been injured.
As well as physical issues, however, there is also the psychological aspect of playing in two high-level competitions.
“That is the challenge,” Pochettino said.
“I said the challenge would not be physical or tactical but to manage your mind.
“To play Saturday and Tuesday or Wednesday is like playing the Premier League continuously. I think we felt that.”
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