Tottenham securing Champions League a 'massive achievement' - Pochettino
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino thanked players and staff for the "massive achievement" of securing Champions League football for the third-consecutive season with a 1-0 win against Newcastle.
The Spurs boss also took the unusual step of thanking Moussa Sissoko for his professionalism, while congratulating everyone associated with the club -- but particularly the France international, who made his 14th league start of the season against the Magpies.
Spurs' win, sealed by Harry Kane's second-half goal and coupled with Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Huddersfield, moved them four points clear of the Blues ahead of the final day of the season and ensured they are the highest finishers in the capital for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
"To achieve the top four I think is a massive achievement," Pochettino said. "I want to congratulate the players first of all and then I want to congratulate the staff that make it possible.
"Now, [after] nearly 38 games playing away from home in the Premier League, I think it's good to say thank you to all the staff. That achievement is for all the team, the players who score goals, or defend or save goals, but the staff were fantastic and I want to say thank you to them because this achievement is part of them as well.
"I am so proud about all the players because today for me one of the best was Moussa Sissoko. I want to say thank you for how professional he was all season. Not too many people recognise him but I think he was fantastic today.
"Players like [Victor] Wanyama who haven't played too much, they were injured and today when you need to win they were there on the pitch giving their best. When we talk about the squad and how important it is in the season to respect them and treat them in the right way and today they were present and they played so well and they are part of the success of the team to finish in the top four for the third-consecutive time.
"The first step is always to be competitive, reduce the gap with the top four, that was the challenge four years ago. Now after 23 years in the Premier League this is the first time Tottenham are above all the London clubs."
Before the game, Pochettino admitted that Spurs had struggled to recover from the FA Cup semifinal defeat to Manchester United last month and he stressed that the next step is to end the club's decade-long trophy drought.
"Then next is to win a trophy. But you need to build. We are not in a club that win a lot in last years. To create a winning mentality is to build step by step and then to be competitive with the big sides," he said.
"For the club it is a massive thing to go and move to the new stadium and play Champions League. It will be another challenge, another massive challenge because it will be the same as it was to play at Wembley.
"Because, yes will be a fantastic stadium but you need to make the new stadium your home, like [it] was with Wembley. You will need time, to let that happen, sure we in this club now, and these players and staff have the experience to build and create in a new building, to feel like home.
"Of course that experience will help the club and the team and the staff, of course."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.