Maurico Pochettino: Real Madrid legend Raul's talk helped Tottenham players
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino hailed the impact Real Madrid legend Raul has had at Tottenham Hotspur this week, saying he reminded Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris that the team is more important than anything.
Raul, 40, who retired from playing in 2015, joined Spurs' preparations for Saturday's game against West Bromwich Albion at Hotspur Way as part of work towards his professional coaching badges.
He spoke to Kane, Lloris and a group of young players, reminding them that the team is more important than scoring. With 27 goals, Kane is four behind Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot, and the awarding of a disputed goal against Stoke City last month earned significant attention.
"Harry needs to be focused on trying to help the team to be in the top four and Champions League next season. Of course, if he scores and can catch Salah, it will be fantastic," Pochettino said.
"Listen, yesterday, Raul was amazing with 20 young players, the coaching staff, Hugo and Harry. He said, 'My aim is always for the team to win. If I score, fantastic, but be happy the team won.' We need to be focused, everyone, on finishing in the top four. Everyone. Harry knows he needs to work hard and score goals. The collective target is more important."
Pochettino said Raul's speech, which lasted 45 minutes, had "a very good impact" upon those who listened.
"Everyone here, not only in Tottenham but around the world, you admire a legend like Raul," Pochettino said. "All that means as a player but as a professional, too. It was fantastic to share with him the whole day yesterday and say thank you to him, because to choose Tottenham and try to learn and see how we work, that's massive praise to us. I want to say thank you, too, because he was open to meet our younger players, too."
Raul ate lunch with the players, then followed them out to training.
"It was amazing for everyone," Pochettino said. "It changed the energy. It was fantastic for us. But of course, our challenge is to be in the top four. That visit helped us a little bit, but tomorrow we need to be ready to fight. The battle will be massive. West Brom are showing great character in their last few games -- the capacity to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and draw with Liverpool, they are doing fantastic in the last few months and of course, they have the belief still.
"We are playing to be in the top four and try to play [in the] Champions League next season. I think it will be a massive battle for them, but also for us because we're playing to be in the Champions League next season."
Spurs are six points behind second-place United with three games to play.
"It's in our hands to finish third, because we have one game more than Liverpool," Pochettino said. "To finish second is not up to us. We need to win our three games and hope Manchester United lose. But all can happen in football. That's why it's such an amazing sport."
Pochettino said the week after the FA Cup semifinal defeat to United had been particularly difficult but said Monday's 2-0 win over Watford had improved the mood.
"It was a long week to Monday to play again," Pochettino said. "It wasn't an easy week but when you win, you forget what happened before. This week was much better. The atmosphere was better. The players played with more energy and it changed the dynamic."
Spurs will be without Harry Winks (ankle) for the trip to West Brom and the fitness of Mousa Dembele (ankle) will be assessed on Friday.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.