It is too early to say Spurs cannot catch top four, says Mauricio Pochettino | Football

Mauricio Pochettino has said Tottenham’s frustrations in the Premier League remind him of those he experienced five years ago at the start of his tenure when he feared he was about to be sacked. The manager goes into Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United with his team in 11th place, having taken 13 points from 11 games and with question marks over whether a clutch of players are to remain a part of his long-term plans.

In early November 2014, when Pochettino went to Aston Villa for a league fixture, Spurs were 14th, with 11 points from the Argentinian’s first nine league matches, and a lineup that included plenty of players he would move on. Pochettino is on record as saying that had Spurs lost he would have been gone. They won 2-1, thanks to a last-gasp Harry Kane goal, which Pochettino credits as being the turning point for him at the club.

Spurs won 4-0 at Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Wednesday, moving them to within touching distance of the last 16, but they have struggled to generate momentum on the domestic front. Pochettino is determined to get back to winning ways on Saturday but he warned that Spurs need time to get it right.

“We went back to five years ago where we were like this in terms of position, situations and stuff like that, so it takes time,” Pochettino said. “We cannot move the club forward quick, we cannot accelerate the time – that’s the problem. It’s a natural process. We only need to stay calm and work hard because there is not another way to change this dynamic. It’s different to five years ago but with a lot of similarities.”

Pochettino was asked to discuss the similarities. “It’s difficult to talk now because I don’t want to be talking about negative things,” he said. “I promise you if all goes well, I will explain for you. I want to be positive because the signals in the last few weeks have been positive.”

Spurs trail fourth-placed Chelsea by 10 points but Pochettino believes a Champions League finish remains possible. “When you assess all the circumstances, it’s normal to be in the position we are,” he said. “We’ll see [about the top four]. Today, it’s so early. If we are capable of finding the right balance to start performing in the way we expect, it’s still possible.”

Hugo Lloris’s return from an elbow injury is expected to be delayed by a couple of weeks after he had surgery. The goalkeeper dislocated the joint and damaged ligaments at Brighton on 5 October and it was hoped he could recover without an operation. Further reviews found the elbow remained unstable. It is now hoped Lloris will return in February.

Pochettino’s assistant, Jesus Pérez, said. “They needed to repair some things in his elbow and that’s why it may take a little bit longer.”

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