Ajax vs Tottenham - Pochettino hints at Spurs exit if they win Champions League

Posted Wednesday, May 08, 2019 by PA

Ajax vs Tottenham - Pochettino hints at Spurs exit if they win Champions League

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested he may look for a new challenge if he can lead Tottenham to Champions League glory.

Pochettino has turned himself into one of the most highly-regarded managers in Europe for the work he has done at Spurs, where his original brief was to deliver Champions League football within five years.

During that time Spurs have twice challenged for the Premier League title and, in their third successive European Cup campaign, are now one win away from a possible final.

They do have a rescue mission to perform in Amsterdam as they are trailing Ajax 1-0 from the semi-final first leg last week.

However, the manner of their second-half performance, and an impressive track record away from home in this competition over the last three years, means the prospect of a final appearance in Madrid next month is very much a possibility.

For Spurs to realise that would be an incredible achievement given the circumstances; they have not signed any players for 18 months, they have had a crippling injury list all season and have played most of the year at Wembley.

And, cutting a prickly figure throughout a press conference at the Johan Cruyff Arena, Pochettino, who has been linked with jobs at Manchester United and Real Madrid in the last 12 months, hinted that winning the competition with Spurs would leave him looking for “something different”.

Asked whether he thought winning the Champions League would have been possible five years ago, he said: “Winning the Champions League? It should be fantastic, no? Close the five-year chapter and go home.”

Pushed on the matter further and asked whether he was joking, he added: “It’s not a joke, why? To win the Champions League with Tottenham in these circumstances this season, maybe I need to think about maybe doing something different in the future. Because to repeat this miracle, you know…”

Their chances in Amsterdam are boosted by the return of Jan Vertonghen following his nasty head injury in last week’s first leg.

“He didn’t suffer more than a cut on his nose,” Pochettino said. “It was no more than that. A lot of players keep on playing in the same situation.

“It wasn’t a big issue and it’s not a big issue if he’s fit and we give him the opportunity to play. It’s not a problem.”

Talismanic striker Harry Kane has travelled to Amsterdam but he will only be able to take a watching brief as he has not recovered from his ankle injury while Harry Winks (groin) and Davinson Sanchez (thigh) are also out.

Ajax defender Daley Blind says his side’s cup final win celebrations at the weekend were “timid” owing to the gravity of this game.

The Dutch side won the KNVB Cup with a 4-0 success over Willem II on Sunday but their thoughts immediately turned to Spurs.

Their silverware on Sunday could be the first part of a treble as they are also in the box seat to claim the Eredivisie title, needing to match PSV’s results over the last two games to lift the trophy.

But Blind, who scored the opening goal for Ajax in the final, said the party was a low-key affair.

“Most were on the pitch and afterwards we celebrated in the stadium with the fans,” the former Manchester United defender said.

“After that it was timid, we had food with the players and after that, we went home.

“It wasn’t difficult, right in the moment it’s not. You know what’s coming.”

Blind added: “It’s clear this match was in our thoughts.

“I’m not nervous. I think a little bit of healthy tension is good and comparable to the other matches.

“Just like the other matches, and the group phase, they’re all important matches against big opponents and you have to make the best of it during preparation. You have to do that yourself.”

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