Valverde defends axing Pochettino - 'I made the decision to do without him'

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The Barcelona boss once dropped the Argentine when he was Espanyol captain, but he says they still have plenty of respect for one another

Ernesto Valverde insists he has a good relationship with Mauricio Pochettino despite dropping him from the Espanyol team back in 2006.

Pochettino was Espanyol captain when Valverde took charge, but he was axed from the side and retired not long afterwards at the age of 34.

The Argentine, now Tottenham boss, claimed in the book 'Brave New World' that Valverde was worried about Pochettino's influence in the dressing room.

He added that it was "hard to accept" but insisted this week that becoming a coach has helped him to understand his old mentor's decision.

Speaking ahead of his Barcelona side's Champions League clash with Spurs at Wembley, Valverde made it clear he still holds Pochettino in high regard.

"When you're a coach, you have to make decisions, always trying to choose the best players for your team," he told a news conference. "I've had to do it over a long time. Mauricio has also had to make his own.

"I made the decision to do without Pochettino. He has also had to make some [decisions] that someone wouldn't like. We have a good relationship and we respect each other."

Barca head into the match following a disappointing week in LaLiga, during which they drew with Girona and Athletic Bilbao either side of a 2-1 defeat to Levante.

Valverde admits it has made preparations difficult but is confident his side will deliver against Spurs in Europe.

"Last week, we had problems with results, that's clear. Everyone can do their own analysis," he said.

"We won everything before. We want to improve every day. When the results don't come, it's because of something, because you failed, because the opposition scores... we want to make amends.

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"It's been a tough week in terms of results. I'm sure we'll play a great game."

Valverde also dismissed the idea he is less concerned by the threat of Harry Kane, who has been criticised in some quarters for his early-season form.

"He's a decisive player," he said of the England international, who has scored three times in two Premier League games after going five appearances for club and country without a goal. "We don't look at whether he's better or worse. He's a threat and has a lot of qualities."

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