Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says he will not know whether his side can challenge Manchester City this season until the European transfer window closes. Spurs are fancied to provide more of a challenge to City, whom they visit in Saturday’s late kick-off, and Liverpool, but uncertainty surrounds several of their key players.
There is a huge question mark over the future of Christian Eriksen, who is in the last year of his present deal, whilst Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are also in the final year of their contracts and Danny Rose was told he could leave earlier in the summer.With clubs on the continent still having another fortnight to conduct any business, Pochettino admits he could be left with “problems”.
With that quartet staying at the club, Tottenham look capable of being title contenders this term, having added Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon to their squad, but the picture could look very different on September 3, which is why Pochettino is reluctant to be too bold. “We need to assess the circumstances,” he said. “We will see what happens between now and September 2.
Eriksen is the big worry for the club and the head coach, he is without doubt one of the best players in the country and would be impossible to replace, but if he is not going to sign a new deal then Spurs would rather cash in now than see him walk for nothing in a year.
Meanwhile Spurs have happy recent memories of heading to the Etihad Stadium following their memorable Champions League quarter-final second leg, where, even though they lost the game, they progressed on away goals.
They lost in the Premier League just three days later, though, part of a 15-game winning run for City, who hammered West Ham 5-0 on the opening day of the season.
Pochettino and Pep Guardiola have a strong rivalry, going back to their days at Espanyol and Barcelona respectively.
The Argentinian has had some success against his counterpart, becoming the first opposition manager to beat Guardiola’s Barcelona at the Nou Camp before becoming the first to beat him in the Premier League back in 2016, while Spurs were also the last side to win against City in any competition – a 1-0 success in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Pochettino has played down the rivalry, insisting it is the players who matter, “When you are in the competition it is the whole team,” he said. “It is not me with another coach. It is not me and Pep.”