Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has warned his players fatigue will be no excuse if they flop against Anderlecht on Thursday. The Europa League clash is Spurs’ second of three matches during a demanding six days for the club which began with a win over Aston Villa on Monday and ends with a crunch visit on Sunday to bitter rivals Arsenal.
Pochettino may have hoped to rest players against Anderlecht with one eye on the north London derby, but Tottenham need a win, given they sit level on points with the Belgians in Group J and one behind Monaco. Pochettino:
“We need to take the schedule and not complain about that. We need to accept the rules, the schedule, we knew the situation before. We’re ready to compete.
“It’s true this is not the best condition but we need to be ready and we need to take the excuse away from the players – ‘Maybe they are tired because they played on Monday?’ – no.
“We need to put this idea out of our mind. We’re in a very good condition and we are fit and we need to be ready.
“It’s more mental than physical, playing every two days, and we’re in a very good run – we need to keep focused because we have a very important game.”
Andros Townsend has been dropped from the squad and banned from first-team training as punishment for his spat with club fitness coach Nathan Gardiner. Townsend was pictured pushing Gardiner during a heated exchange at White Hart Lane on Monday, and Pochettino has come down hard on the winger:
“As a manager I am very fair but the discipline is very important. The staff need to show respect to the player and the player needs to show respect to the staff …
“He needs to learn about football, about behaviour, about discipline, about a lot of things.
“Football is not only about taking the ball in your feet and playing. You have a responsibility as a professional.”
Townsend has apologized for the altercation but is believed to be considering his future at Tottenham, where the likes of Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli have all moved ahead of him in the pecking order.
“All players have a future. It’s up to them to have a future here. Football can change quickly,” Pochettino said.