I’m so happy, so happy and thankful for the club to give me the players. Of course I have also to thank the players for trusting us and having the desire to come and play with and for us. All of them Premier League players with enough experience playing in our league. That’s a plus especially with a special pre-season which was far from normal.
Not much time to work, lots of problems, then national teams. Good for us that they belong to these habits and to play Sunday or next week is not a problem. That’s a plus.
Then their personalities was something, we tried to go to a certain profile. I always felt the team needed to add a few personalities, directly related to the way they play football and belong in a working group.
I always felt we needed that. Joe, Matt and Pierre – part of their qualities as players, they have the profile and experience the group needed.
From a squad viewpoint, a goalkeeper to join Paulo and Hugo, especially a homegrown goalkeeper would be very, very important for us. We didn’t want to lose that opportunity with Joe.
Matt was playing amazing for Wolves, being so offensive and so effective is something we want. Last season we had a whole season with Serge Aurier as a unique option to play right back and then we adapted Japhet Tanganga until he got his injury. But mainly we had the whole season with one right back.
Again, with Pierre, a position where we need that kind of profile. We have enough creativity in midfield, people like Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy that’s more creative, offensive midfield player. We were missing an option there and Pierre gives us that stability. Very pleased with the three players and very pleased they come with enough time to have an understanding of what we are as a group and a football team.
Would a new striker finish it off though?
Yes. I thought your question would be more direct and ‘are you going to get a striker?’ You’ve tried to be nice with me and go around the issue, but I can go direct.
Yes, I want, I need a striker, but I want to make it very, very clear that the club – the structure above me – knows that I need a striker and also wants a striker.
Are we going to get one? I honestly believe so. For the balance of the squad, the team needs it because in this moment the squad is getting very balanced, with different options for different positions. Especially after the gift we had from the EFL and UEFA, that gives me after 20 years of football a unique experience of playing Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday for two consecutive weeks.
We realise that more than ever we need that. So, yes, we’re working on it. The other day Jurgen was saying that Liverpool is not a club of oligarchs and that belongs to countries. We are the same. We cannot go to the market and spend a fortune on players. But we all – we all, I want to make that clear – are working hard to give good balance to the squad and that good balance would to get one more striker to the team.
Can you compete in this market with the money people like Chelsea are spending?
Good for them. If the clubs can do it, and if that’s their priority and if there’s no financial fair play for some clubs and they have the opportunity to do it, good for them. Honestly I don’t envy them.
They are what they are, they do what they do. To be honest also, I’m so happy with the squad I have. That fact that we managed to improve it with Joe, Doherty and Hojbjerg makes me even happier with the squad that we have, but doing little final touch that I believe we’re going to do, I’d be more than happy to face the season, even the non-human month we have ahead of us. I’m optimistic.
Are you far away from signing a new striker?
We are working. Different people in the club in different areas. We try all together to find a solution that makes us all happy. Of course I have total confidence that it’s going to end in a positive way for the squad, in the end we’re speaking in the end about our squad, our team, our club. It’s in the interest of every one of us is working in different areas to try to find a solution.
Is Danny Rose got to Genoa?
If Genoa gets Danny Rose, I think they get a good player. If they get a good player in the last year of his contract, I think they’re in a privileged position to do a good deal for them. And if Danny Rose goes there, I wish him all the best.
It’s one of the things that was very clear you that you could learn from one of the Amazon bits is that Danny is the kind of guy who wants to play all the time. Some players are more adapted to a belong to a squad with lots of quality where the competition is higher.
Other players are only happy if they’re in a club where they play all the time. It’s very difficult for him to stay here with us when for me it’s clear that Ben Davies is such a solid left-back, Ryan Sessegnon is an investment by the club, an emerging player that we want to improve. So it’s very difficult for Danny to stay with us this season. If he goes to Serie A and Genoa I think it’ll be very good for him.
Is it going to happen?
I don’t know, I don’t belong to transfer market especially with players leaving the club. The club knows I’m more than happy with the players I have in the left-back position and that I would be happy for Danny to leave and if he would leave to a big club.
How much stronger do you think Everton will be, do you see them as top-six challengers?
I do see them as top six challengers. I think the 10 point distance last season was just the consequence of how strange last season was. When we come back from lockdown it was a group of teams fighting for objectives and some others weren’t. We were, our distance to the top four, top six was giving us a light to chase.
In Everton’s case they were a few points behind and they were a team who just let the team play and the season go to the end. Now it’s a different picture. The best new signing that they had was the coach, Carlo (Ancelotti). Coming again to a similar situation as mine and obviously when a coach of Carlo’s dimension goes to a club it’s not to avoid relegation or stay in mid-table.
When Carlo goes to Everton, it’s easy to understand what Everton wants, want Carlo. Their ambitions, then in the market they bought high quality, they bought players that know Carlo very well, they worked with him in previous clubs and a good squad becomes a much stronger squad. So yes I look at them as direct opponents.
Will Spurs player continue to take the knee, will you?
For me, there is never room for racism. I am 57 I think, I forget sometimes, and there’s never room for racism in my house, my close circle, my football teams. So for me, nothing changes. No Room For Racism being on shirt, not on shirt, with knee, without knee. For me the most important thing is the desire and this strong statement No Room For Racism. It’s clear. And I’d be more happy to follow what my club wants to do but the most important thing is what you have in your heart.
You’re one of the few managers to retain the Premier League title, what difficulties does Jurgen Klopp now face?
I don’t want to tell Jurgen. I want him to find out. Let him find out.
What would a successful season look like for Tottenham this year?
Win every match. That’s our ambition. Of course look at me and say ‘what a silly answer’, which I accept and everybody knows that we are not going to win every match but my ambition is to go to every match with this feeling that we want to win and we can win.
Of course we are going to lose and of course we are going to draw but I want, this is my challenge with the team, this is my state of mind, this level of confidence, this level of self-esteem.
I want to go to every match, it doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter the opponent, I want to go to every match and the team only with one objective – we go there to win.
Would you do the Amazon documentary again and are you happy you appeared in it?
Well, I think it’s good for the football world. It’s good for the football world because it’s a world that almost everybody loves, but at the same time what people know is what happens on match day and on the pitch.
A work of this dimension gives people an incredible insight into a world they don’t know. I keep telling the same to different people. I love Formula 1, it’s not my world and the only thing that I know is what I see during the race.
When they did that series of episodes I was absolutely in love with it because I kept going inside a world that was not my world. So I think this work is amazing.
I think Tottenham did it for the right reasons. Maybe people think they did it to get a few million but that was not the point. The point was exactly this opening and this promotion of our club and promotion of football.
On that level would I do it again, yes I would. You ask me if I love it. No I hate it. You ask me did I watch. No I didn’t and I’m not going to do it, but I believe that is very interesting for people.
Will that new striker be happy to come and play back-up to Harry Kane and will they come from England or Europe?
I don’t like that word back-up. I know that we have one of the best strikers in the world. I know that we have undoubtedly the best striker in England, but I don’t like the word back-up. A squad is a squad. A striker can play with Harry Kane. A striker that comes here is not to be feeling that he is just in a back-up situation.
So yes we have the best striker in the country but we want a striker that can give us more than we have and to give us more than we have is not just to support us. To support us in such a difficult season is also to try to play and why not play with Harry?
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How concerned are you about the fixture pile-up?
If I think too much about it, I don’t know how to answer and I will get depressed. I don’t want to get depressed. I want to go to every match with a smile.
I want to go to every match positive. But the other day I made a challenge with my boys, asking them which one of them thinks they can play all these nine matches for 90 minutes and nobody told me ‘I can’.
So we all are very, very aware that it is impossible to do it. It is not human. It is a big risk in terms of our ambitions, first of all, because it is very, very possible you lose one of these matches and the part of the Premier League where you can lose and stay in competition but if you lose in the Europa League, you go out. If you lose in the Carabao Cup, you go out too.
So looking at that level, it is a big risk. Injury, obviously, if everybody speaks about lots of matches in some periods, this is something unique. It has never happened, never happened.
If we decide that one of these competitions is not important for us, we go against the nature of the club, we go against our own nature, we go against our ambitions because the Europa League and the League Cup, we have our ambitions. We have our rights to try and fight for the competitions.
In the end, we end by asking ‘which professionals? Who are the people? Who are the illuminated that make these decisions?’ Because this is not about Tottenham. This is about an English club. It was Tottenham but it could be Wolves, it could be Sheffield United.
It is not about us but I would like to know, because in this moment they hide, who makes a team play Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday again, Thursday again, Sunday again. Do they want us to play with the youth team in the Carabao Cup? Do they want us? That’s my question.
In terms of the mentality, how do you turn them from nice guys to winners and how close are you to doing that and getting them to win trophies?
I don’t want them to think they can win trophies, I want them to think they can win matches.
I want them to go to every match, and again it doesn’t matter if it’s Plymouth or Leyton Orient, or Manchester City or United, doesn’t matter if it’s at home or away, I want the team to go to every match and there is only one result we’re going to fight for. Win the match.
We’re going to lose, we’re going to draw, we are going to play better, we are going to play worse, but I want that mentality.
The first step is that level of confidence, going into every match, thinking and feeling that we can win it.