Mauricio Pochettino welcomes the champions to Wembley on Sunday with a simple message.
The Tottenham manager has guided his club to third- and second-placed league finishes in the past two seasons but failed to bring a trophy to White Hart Lane. The Argentinian is clear, however, that the only piece of silverware that will really satisfy his ambitions is the one that Chelsea currently hold.
“I need to explain what it means to win a trophy,” Pochettino says. “I want to win the Premier League. I don’t say that it’s not important to win the League Cup or the FA Cup or the Europa League. But for me every season Tottenham needs to have the possibility of winning the Premier League and of winning the Champions League. The two most important trophies. That is our challenge. If one day I am not capable of winning the Premier League with Tottenham or we don’t have the chance to win it, I would be disappointed.”
Pochettino is at pains to point out that he meant no disrespect to the domestic cups but it is also plain that, alongside the Europa League, he sees them as a different calibre of challenge from claiming the title of champions of England or Europe.
“Sometimes you can win the League Cup because of the draw,” he says. “Or the Europa League because the big clubs are more focused on other competitions. Sorry, with full respect, to win a trophy, for me, is to win the Premier League, or the Champions League.”
By making his priorities clear, Pochettino may be making a rod for his own back. Spurs are starting the season having just completed a deal for their first summer signing, the Ajax defender Davinson Sánchez. They are also about to begin a season-long tenancy at a ground where they lost three matches out of five last season.
On the other hand, his side have consistently exceeded expectations. He has some of the best young talent in Europe at his disposal, including Dele Alli and Harry Kane, included this week on Fifa’s Player of the Year longlist. The absence of silverware is the only criticism that can be levelled at the Argentinian during his three-year tenure at the club. He is making clear he wants to be judged on winning only the most prestigious.
“There’s often a lot of talk Tottenham need a trophy,” he said. “But no, we need a big trophy.”
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