The Argentine moved to Spurs from Southampton in May and faces a Hammers side who have been tasked with playing an exciting brand of football under Sam Allardyce this termMauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham still need time to adapt to his new system ahead of their Premier League opener against West Ham on Saturday.
The fixture at Upton Park marks Pochettino's competitive debut as Tottenham head coach, after the Argentine left Southampton for White Hart Lane in May.
With all five teams who finished above Spurs last season - Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton - having spent big along with Manchester United, the north London club are considered outsiders for Champions League qualification.
However, Pochettino is confident his players are capable of competing for a top-four spot - as long as they fulfil their potential.
"We want to improve every time, but we need to learn," said the Tottenham boss.
"We know we need time to improve our new system, our new philosophy, but we are very happy at the moment.
"We [must] improve quickly and the most important thing is we are ready to play and compete."
Tottenham went through pre-season unbeaten, but in West Ham they meet a side who beat them three times last term - twice in the league and once in the Capital One Cup.
Pochettino also has fitness concerns over seven players with Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Paulinho all having re-joined training late following their involvement at the World Cup.
Kyle Walker is struggling with a pelvis problem, while Michael Dawson (knock) and Vlad Chiriches (back) are also doubtful.
West Ham have injury issues of their own with injury-plagued striker Andy Carroll (ankle) and winger Matt Jarvis (knock) unavailable, while a late decision will be made on summer signing Enner Valencia, who played for Ecuador at the World Cup.
The new campaign could be make-or-break for manager Sam Allardyce who has endured a difficult year at Upton Park.
West Ham had a poor end to the season and there were calls from certain sections of the Upton Park faithful for Allardyce to be removed.
West Ham's co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan retained faith in the 59-year-old, on the condition that he employed a more attractive brand of football - with Teddy Sheringham drafted in as attacking coach to help those ambitions.
In addition to Valencia's signing, Allardyce has bolstered his attacking options with Mauro Zarate and Diafra Sakho, while the likes of Cheikhou Kouyate, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell have also added to West Ham's squad.
"Overall we've gone out and shopped very wisely,” said Allardyce.
"From my point of view, it's about the age of the players as well as the talent of the players. Of the signings, the average age comes out at about 23 years of age.
"That's good for now and good for the future."