A loss yesterday wouldn’t deter Mauricio Pochettino even if Tottenham are out of another competition this season, as Pochettino was proud of how his team performed in defeat.
Another loss to Gent should, for all intents and purposes, be seen as a disappointment for Mauricio Pochettino because Tottenham were bounced out of the Europa League for the third time under his watch.
But instead, the Argentine manager was actually proud of how his players performed.
With everything that had happened to his team over two legs, Pochettino looked at the positives and not zeroing in on the negatives of what transpired.
Especially in the second leg that was mired by a Dele Alli red card, a Harry Kane own goal and some sloppy defending at crucial moments courtesy of Eric Dier.
"“After the sending off I thought we were brave and I’m happy with the performance in the second half,” Pochettino began.“We dominated, scored to make it 2-1 but it’s true, when you take risks when you need another goal you give the possibility to the counterattack and when they scored, the game was over.”“I’m very proud of the performance and it’s just a shame we didn’t play well in the first leg.”"
It’s been well documented by Mauricio Pochettino himself when he acknowledged that Spurs played poorly in the first leg, which set up a difficult task to overcome at Wembley Stadium
A ground that has not been too kind to Tottenham over the years.
Still, there was reason to believe that things could turn around even with 10 men after Victor Wanyama leveled the score two-all on aggregate.
"“Yes, of course, in that moment I believed maybe we could turn the tide,” Mauricio Pochettino continued.“It’s about trying to improve as a group and as a team and not giving the possibilities we gave to them in the first leg.”“You can then play better in the second leg but sometimes in football you pay for the first game.”"
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It’s true, Spurs’ first leg performance can be attributed to one of the major turning points in this match — by not being mentally prepared to face a club who wanted to win more than Spurs did.
Following Wanyama’s goal, with a little less than half an hour to play, Tottenham continued to raise their game by completely outshooting Gent 25 to five in shot attempts.
Unfortunately, the high number of chances created don’t mean much if only three of Spurs’ shots were on goal.
That kind of performance won’t see Tottenham win matches if they shoot all willy-nilly and don’t get them on target. Opponents will always welcome long range efforts that wind up being a forced turnover even if Spurs’ intent is to get the opposing goalkeeper to make a save.
"“We created a lot of chances to score. We played with the right attitude in the right way and it’s a shame we’re now going out of the competition.”"
As for Dele Alli, this isn’t the first time that the 20-year-old has been involved with questionable challenges that — for the most part — went largely unpunished last season until the Football Association intervened after Alli stomach punched West Brom’s Claudio Yacob.
Alli’s temper was questioned by former referee Howard Webb leading up to the Euros as something to watch out for. And while Dele Alli’s first red card in his footballing career happened well past the Euros, it’s just a sign that even at a young age, he will make mistakes.
Very poor mistakes that will jeopardize his team.
Something that Mauricio Pochettino knows after having a word with him, but not discussing too much except that Dele Alli regrets his decision.
"“It’s difficult, he’s very sad now and disappointed about the action. He knows he made a mistake and that’s football, it happens.”"