Follow your club now for first access to all our news, views and analysisSpurs
Mauricio Pochettino points to his lack of grey hair as a sign he is unaffected by the pressure generated by Tottenham Hotspur’s slide, but accepts a failure to improve on results will raise more questions about his long-term future.
The failure to beat Watford, rooted at the foot of the Premier League, at home on Saturday was the latest setback in a poor start to a campaign that has already produced several moments Pochettino and his players would like to forget.
The manager has been forced to explain embarrassing defeats, including the 7-2 capitulation to Bayern Munich that was followed by a painful 3-0 defeat at Brighton, while a return of three Premier League wins so far is underwhelming for a side who reached the Champions League final last June.
The visit of Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday evening presents an opportunity for Pochettino’s side to inject much-needed momentum into their season.
“The rumours happen in any club when you don’t win,” said Pochettino. “That doesn’t mean they are true and you need to care or pay attention about what has happened. But I understand it’s the business.
“I am 47, look, why do you think I don’t have white hair? Because I don’t pay attention to any of this. I only pay attention to what we need to do to improve our performance. And if we don’t improve our performance, what is going to be the result? Always the same in football. You are thinking the same as me.”
Pochettino insists he is upbeat and Harry Kane moved to dismiss any suggestion of friction between players and manager. “There’s going to be speculation when things aren’t going well,” said the Spurs captain. “When you’re not winning games, people will look from the outside for excuses, [but] from our point of view we work hard every day.
“We have worked hard since the manager came here to improve as players and as a team, that hasn’t changed. It would be wrong to do more or less, we need to carry on doing what we have always done and that is to keep working as hard as possible.”
Spurs go into Tuesday night’s game with just one point in Group B and Pochettino is in no doubt about the need to secure victory.
“It is important to win and be in a good position in the table, of course,” he said. “In this type of period our worst opponent are ourselves. The most important thing is that people say expectation has changed, after the final of the Champions League, for this club. And for this group of players. That is why it looks worse, this situation. But the most important thing is to build our confidence again.”