Tottenham won't use Milton Keynes as excuse - Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said there will be no excuse if his team play poorly at Stadium MK and that he would happily play another match in Milton Keynes.
With the construction of their stadium delayed indefinitely and temporary home Wembley Stadium unavailable, Tottenham will host Watford on Wednesday in a third-round Carabao Cup game at MK Dons' ground, nearly 50 miles from London.
"For Watford, it will be the same conditions," Pochettino said at a news conference on Tuesday. "If there is one thing I don't want, it is to give reasons to the players, to us, to say: 'If we don't win, it's because of Milton Keynes, it's because we don't play at our stadium, it's because we play at Wembley'.
"If you are a winner, you have a different mentality, and if you are a loser, you always try to find an excuse to avoid responsibility. I feel well [about it], because we're going to discover another place to play. It's a very nice town."
The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Dele Alli, who was signed from MK Dons in 2015 and who will play at the ground for the first time since leaving the club.
"Four years ago, I saw Dele Alli as a 16- or 17-year-old playing against Manchester United -- many very good memories," Pochettino said. "I think it's a beautiful town with an amazing stadium. The option to play there is the only option we had.
"[Dele is] happy. He's so excited, of course. He's the king of Milton Keynes."
If Spurs progress in the Carabao Cup and are drawn at home again, they may need to return to Milton Keynes for the fourth round, which will be played the last week of October.
"First of all, we need to win," Pochettino said. "We respect Watford. But if we win, after the draw, we'll take the decision if we need to play at home, and if it's not possible to play at Wembley or our new stadium, I'm more than happy to play again at Milton Keynes.
"I need to tell [the fans] sorry [for the delay], that we are doing all that we can to try to finish and the chairman is so committed. I promise he didn't sleep trying to find solutions."
Spurs expected to open their stadium on Sept. 15 for their game against Liverpool. Because of delays, they have moved all of their Premier League games through October, as well as all of their Champions League group-stage matches, to Wembley.
"Of course, we feel disappointed for our fans, but they need to understand that [the new stadium] is a venue for the rest of our lives and for the next generations and it is so important to finish in the right way," Pochettino said. "Maybe one or two months means a lot, but in the end, it is no time because the most important thing is to finish and be safe when we are going to move there -- with the fans happy, players trying to give their best to win games and in the future to have a venue that is going to help us win trophies.
"I think for Tottenham's future, with this venue to play in, with a stadium that will be the best, the only thing that we will be missing is trophies in the cabinet."
Meanwhile, Pochettino plans to make five or six changes against Watford but said weakening his lineup will not devalue the competition.
"We want to win," he said. "We rotate, trying to find the best solution to try to win games. But the obsession here in England is to try to disrespect the players who play in one or another competition, and for me, it's so difficult to understand.
"If, tomorrow, Paulo Gazzaniga plays, or Serge Aurier, who played against Inter Milan but didn't play against Brighton -- it's like we disrespect the competition or we don't take it seriously."
Pochettino said after the 2-1 loss to Inter Milan on Sept. 18 that questions about his squad choice were disrespectful to those who played, and on Tuesday, he said rotating the squad helps give players "confidence and trust."
"When you sign players and have 24 players in your squad, you need to respect all the players," Pochettino said. "Sorry, but for me, it's so difficult to understand that obsession about why one or another plays. It's like all the managers want to lose [and] no one wants to win."