Mauricio Pochettino says that Tottenham Hotspur have decided to remain at Wembley if they are in the Europa League in the new year, as he is determined to make the national stadium feel like home before the club’s move there for the whole of next season.
Tottenham have played their Champions League home ties at Wembley this time out, after Uefa ruled that White Hart Lane was unfit to stage them because of the building work on the new stadium. The club now know that they will not qualify for the knockout rounds of the competition, as a result of Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Monaco, and they will enter the Europa League if they win or draw at Wembley against CSKA Moscow in their final group game on 7 December.
Tottenham would have the option of returning to White Hart Lane for the Europa League and it is a possibility that has been discussed since the Monaco defeat. Moussa Sissoko said : “Going home to White Hart Lane would make it easier for us”.
But Pochettino gave the midfielder’s view short shrift and, in the process, he made it clear that the club would take up the option that they have with the Football Association to use Wembley for all of their home matches next season. At present, nothing has been signed between Tottenham and the FA.
“The players need to be focused on playing, to talk on the pitch,” Pochettino said. “That is the most important thing. And then, the decisions of the club are down to the chairman and the board and us – to me, in that case. It’s sure that if we are in the Europa League, we will play at Wembley.
“We need to make it our home and it’s a good opportunity to play our next game at Wembley [against CSKA] and then to play the Europa League games there, if we have the possibility to play Europa League. Because, next season, we need to play 19 [Premier League] games, and cups, and European competition [at Wembley]. We need to make Wembley our home and it’s a great opportunity to play. We will play at Wembley.”
Pochettino was asked whether the decision to stay at Wembley for the Europa League, if the club were to end up playing in the competition, was motivated by the desire to put things right at the national stadium, ahead of next season. Tottenham have lost both their Champions League games at Wembley – against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen – and those defeats have, in effect, pressed them out of the tournament. The Wembley factor has been blamed, in some quarters, for the exit.
“Yes. For me, it’s a big motivation,” Pochettino said. “In football, you always need to look forward. You cannot stop and try to complain or blame. I am looking forward to try to get more possibilities to play at Wembley, and that the players and the team start to feel at home.
“That is the most important because our new stadium is coming and we need to move to Wembley next season, and we cannot complain next season. We need to make Wembley our home. We need to start to think like this and we need to start to avoid all the negative things about Wembley. It doesn’t help us today and it won’t help us in the future.”
Pochettino reported that Toby Alderweireld (knee), Erik Lamela (hip) and Ben Davies (ankle) were out of Saturday’s visit to Chelsea while Danny Rose is suspended. Jan Vertonghen is expected to fill in at left-back. Pochettino said that Alderweireld had done some work with the ball in training on Thursday and he hoped that he could complete the session on Friday. “Next week will be key to see if he can be involved next Saturday,” he said, looking further forward to the home game against Swansea City.
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