Belfast Telegraph

Pochettino willing to drop stars

Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham players that reputations mean nothing to him when it comes to picking the team.

Spurs enjoyed a strong start to the season under their new head coach, winning four games and scoring 10 goals along the way but their form has dipped of late.

A poor performance on Sunday brought a shock 1-0 defeat at home to West Brom which means Tottenham are now four games without a victory in all competitions.

Pochettino's squad is brimming with big-money signings and star names but the Argentine insists he is not afraid to act if players fail to deliver.

"Do reputations mean anything to me? No. I select the team but it's up to the players to show me (they deserve to play)," Pochettino said.

"Nobody is different. We have 25 players and they are all in the squad. If I decide you play, you play.

"The name is nothing for me when I pick my team."

Pochettino, whose side host Nottingham Forest in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, continued: "We analyse every game and every performance and after that, we decide.

"For me, when I pick the best players for playing in each game, I always analyse their last performance.

"I have no problem making changes, I have no problem picking different players in different competitions or if they are not in a good moment.

"If you need to change, you change - it's not a big problem."

Spurs managed just one shot on target against West Brom and Pochettino was visibly frustrated on the touchline during his team's blunt display.

The 42-year-old's personable style was extremely popular among the players at former club Southampton but Pochettino says he can be tough when he needs to be.

"What I did after the West Brom game is private with the players although maybe you can see on the touchline how my behaviour can be, my personality," Pochettino explained.

"I am straight with them. I told them all the truth inside (the dressing room) but the reality is that I am responsible for the team."

He continued: "I tell the truth to their face. We work hard and this is what we want to put into practice this year.

"They know they compete in every training session and every game and they need to show a good performance to keep their position in the squad.

"I always tell the truth to their face. This is my personality and it is not a problem."

Tottenham need to bounce back quickly with difficult fixtures against Arsenal, Besiktas, Southampton and Manchester City coming up.

If Spurs lose the north London derby on Saturday, they will fall five points behind Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League but Pochettino believes his players have been given the wake-up call they needed.

"I am happy with the way things are going - I am very upset and disappointed with the last game but despite that, I think we are heading in the right way," he said.

"To build a winning mentality and a winning team, sometimes you need to lose, you need a big hit in your face to change the energy and realise that you need to fight every game, you need to fight every training session, you need to play like a team and you need to show more energy like a team."

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