Pochettino sends strong message to Spurs’ want-away stars

Andy Edwards
NBC Sports

Mauricio Pochettino sounds like a manager increasingly tired of answering questions about players who wish to leave Tottenham Hotspur.

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Tottenham’s summer transfer window saw three first-team players arrive, yet a whole host of want-away stars stole the majority of the headlines and have made the opening weeks of the Premier League season plenty difficult for Pochettino. Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Serge Aurier and Victor Wanyama all reached varying level of “close to leaving the club,” while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen quietly declined to extend their current contracts with fewer than 12 months remaining.

Eriksen didn’t start the first two games of the season as Pochettino didn’t think he was in the right frame of mind to do so; Vertonghen has played just once; Rose has played 358 of 360 minutes, but has performed to a subpar standard; and the same goes for Alderweireld.

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To put it simply, it’s been a mess; also, a minor miracle that Spurs have five points from four games, including two away to Manchester City and Arsenal already. The European transfer window mercifully, and finally, closed last week, therefore Pochettino can finally look at his squad and know what everyone who is currently at the club will remain there until January at least. As such, the Argentine has demanded focus from everyone at the club, or else — quotes from the Guardian:

“Always it’s difficult [to sell players] and then I think we are all agreed that Tottenham have more rumors than other clubs. In one month I think the rumors will start again because the situation of the squad is going to help those rumors appear. Now it’s a time to be positive.”

“Victor Wanyama is in my plans. Christian is in my plans. Before I understood that they were in a difficult situation and, of course, we tried to help them, to help the club, to do their business. When it’s one player, then OK. But then it’s a few players, who start to make it difficult to create a good dynamic, a positive dynamic … Now we need to start to win games. Be refocused, and who is not refocused is going to be out.”

Is Pochettino the type of manager who’ll drop an irreplaceable player week after week just to prove a point or maintain a certain level of control over the team? You bet he is, and he’ll gladly prove it should any of the aforementioned players not meet level of focus required.

Eriksen made no bones about his desire to leave during the international break, and while Pochettino sympathizes with a player trying to do the best thing for his own career, he also trusts Eriksen will fall in line and see out his contract in a professional manner.

“When you sign the contract, like Christian who signed for five or six years, you need to be committed from day one to the last day. He isn’t not going to show the commitment because there’s only one year left,. The difference is whether he wants to extend the contract or not. Different players have different goals.

“No one is going to say, ‘I want to leave the club’ and, if no one wants you, then you say, ‘No, I love the club.’ You kill yourself then. The reality is that managers, players, coaching staff — sometimes they have one year left and they are happy; others need a different challenge.”

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