Pochettino stresses importance of Rochdale FA Cup match
Attention moves from Italy to Lancashire.
Mauricio Pochettino has warned his high-flying Tottenham stars they will be punished by Rochdale if lessons have not been learned from their FA Cup hiccup against Newport.
Spurs, who will head to the humble surroundings of the Crown Oil Arena only days after securing a spirited comeback draw against Juventus in the Champions League, required a replay to progress to the fifth round.
Harry Kane scored with just eight minutes remaining to salvage a draw against Newport before the north London side cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory against the League Two side at Wembley.
Pochettino’s side will be full of confidence after taking seven points from consecutive Premier League matches against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal and their resounding display in Turin on Tuesday.
But the Argentine has admitted it will be a challenge for his stars to maintain their recent impressive form for the trip to Rochdale.
“It is a massive challenge for us to keep the same levels,” Pochettino said. “But I will be a little bit upset if we are not able to keep the same level of motivation.
“The game against Newport is a good example. If you don’t learn after Newport it is because you are not clever enough to understand.
“If you want to win the title and be one of the best teams in Europe, the game against Rochdale is as important as the games against Liverpool, Manchester United and Juventus.
“When Tottenham play it is about the competition and the FA Cup is an important competition that we have the possibility to get the quarter final if we are capable of performing in the way we have for the last months.”
Pochettino could rest a number of players for the game against Rochdale while the Spurs manager will take a late decision on Kane who is battling a sprained ankle.
Lucas Moura, who made his debut as a substitute in the second half of Spurs’ draw against Juventus, could be handed his first start since his January switch from Paris Saint-Germain.
The 25-year-old Brazilian played just six times for PSG before his switch to Spurs, and has not started a game this season.
“We don’t want to put too much pressure or expectation on him because it’s not easy for a player when you arrive after seven months of not playing,” Pochettino said.
“They always want to show too much and sometimes when the players are thinking they need to show why they are here they start not behaving in a natural way and they make mistakes.
“That’s why it’s good to reduce expectations and then he will feel comfortable in an environment and show his quality with no pressure to score goals or to play well — to have confidence.
“Because we trust in his talent and want him to play and feel free to play.”