Tottenham's players excited for summer tour - Mauricio Pochettino
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has defended Tottenham's postseason trips to Asia, insisting that his players are happy to take part in the commercial exercises which are a necessary evil for all big clubs.
Spurs will travel to Hong Kong the day after Sunday's Premier League finale at Hull City to spend five days in the former British territory, where they play a lucrative friendly against local champions Kitchee SC on May 26. South Korea international Son Heung-Min and teammates Kyle Walker, Kevin Wimmer and Ben Davies will travel to Seoul on the same day for a promotional visit before joining the rest of the squad in Hong Kong.
Spurs decided on the trips after losing the FA Cup semifinal last month, and Pochettino insisted it would be beneficial for his players, most of whom will be involved in competitive internationals in June.
"Liverpool are the same, Manchester City are the same. The players need to play and keep fit. I think we are helping because we are going to Hong Kong, have a nice time and train," the Spurs manager said. "These days, if you do not go now, you have to be there in preseason. In preseason, it is worse to go there when you want better conditions to be ready. That is the commercial side.
"All the big clubs -- Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich -- are involved in tournaments. It's not changed too much because if we had beaten Chelsea, we'd be playing in the FA Cup final.
"I think it was a very good deal with the players, who are happy to go there. It's a week to keep fit and enjoy, too. It's good for the club to be there. If you want good facilities, one of the best stadiums in the world, then I think it is impossible to stop this type of situation. It is very good for the club," he added.
"Two months ago all of us spoke about the situation and we all agreed that if we did not get to the FA Cup final, we would need to help the club and go there and spend four or five days. The rumours in the media are wrong. Maybe one percent or one player is not happy, but the rest of the group is so, so, so happy to help the club."
Ahead of the final two games of the season, Tottenham have already finished as Premier League runners-up but it took 19 matches before they broke into the top four and the manager has said a run of one win in six matches in autumn was fatal to their title hopes.
Their slow start followed a disruptive summer including the European Championship followed by the International Champions Cup in Melbourne, Australia and they will compete in the friendly tournament again in July -- this time in Orlando, New York and Nashville from July 20 to 30.
Pochettino admitted his players are in desperate need of a holiday and said balancing their time-off with the club's commercial commitments would be key to success again next season.
"For us, it's so difficult because I think 80 or 90 percent of our players have to work with their national teams and the last game is June 13. Then they need holidays," he said.
"For many, many years, it was always difficult to give holidays. Now they need to rest. Then next season is a World Cup again and the Premier League wants to start early. The summer is the only opportunity to give a good a rest and then is a struggle to start the season again.
"We are trying to take the best decision to give them rest and at the same time to give the best preparation for next season, because if not we'll struggle again.
"I understand that football is a business but they need rest. If not they get injured, get problems, get tired, and then how it affects our management is unbelievable. I think they are not machines and they need proper holidays. But I think the business is over the human side," he admitted.
"We have been talking a lot over the last few days to give the best possible rest, but also be responsible. We don't want it to end up that we give one month and a half holidays and then we start the season and nobody is ready. Then you start to lose games because you were irresponsible but we were so kind to give so much holidays. It is difficult because their point of view is different to our point of view which is different from the club's point of view. We will agree the terms."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.