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Pochettino explains cup 'ego' comments in passionate defence of Tottenham record

3:52 PM GMT 29/01/2019
Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham 2018-19
After facing fresh criticism following successive Carabao Cup and FA Cup defeats, Spurs' Argentine head coach has come out fighting

Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham are doing a "fantastic job" despite crashing out of both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup in the space of four days.

Spurs, without injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli, saw their 1-0 first-leg lead overturned when they lost the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea last week.

Then on Saturday a much-changed Spurs side were knocked out of the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage by another London club, Crystal Palace triumphing 2-0.

Pochettino's four-and-a-half-year reign at Spurs still does not include a trophy and that wait seems certain to be extended into another season, with his side nine points off the Premier League pace set by Liverpool.

A last-16 clash with Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League also appears daunting, while Spurs are in danger of being caught by a resurgent Manchester United in the battle to qualify for Europe's top-tier competition in 2019-20.

Pochettino, reportedly a leading contender for the United job at the end of the season, said after Spurs lost at Palace that winning trophies does not take a club to the next level, adding: "It only builds your ego."

And speaking at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Premier League game at home to Watford, Pochettino launched an extensive explanation of his comments, as well as a defence of his record at Tottenham.

"I don't know if the fans were happy or not happy [with the comments] because I don't follow social media," he said. "I think it's so important to clarify.

"I know now that talk about ego is a negative expression in England, maybe in other countries we talk about it being more superficial.

"It's because, in the past, I've been asked if winning a domestic cup will help the club to the next level. Winning a Carabao Cup or FA Cup reaches the next level? I cannot agree. I only wanted to say how well we've progressed in recent years.

"I want to win cups. I'm not naive. It's tough for me because, after three or four seasons, we're always talking about the cups.

"I want to build my CV winning titles, of course. I'm the first who wants to win. I think, in the last five years, we've played in four semi-finals and one final.

"If you ask me how to be in the next level it's improving our structure, the way we operate, the squad, the facilities; we tick almost all boxes. The fans that aren't happy, with perspective in the future, they will appreciate everything everyone is doing for this football club."