Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino said his players’ must improve their mentality after the London club’s hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout rounds vanished in a 2-1 defeat at Monaco on Tuesday.
It was Spurs’ third defeat in five Group E games and but for their France keeper Hugo Lloris it could have been a thrashing, even if Harry Kane gave them hope with a penalty equaliser.
“Maybe we need to improve our mentality and be ready in every game,” Pochettino told reporters as he addressed the pressures of playing in both the Premier and Champions League.
“From the beginning of the season, I said our challenge was not physical, it was tactical – to manage your mind and to play on Saturday and then Tuesday or Wednesday.
“To be ready again after two days is difficult. It’s not an excuse because I don’t think we showed enough quality to go into the next round.”
Tottenham have not won a point at Wembley, where they have played European home games due to their ground redevelopment, losing to 2-1 to group winners Monaco and 1-0 to runners-up Bayer Leverkusen, who have both reached the last 16.
They had not conceded on their travels in the competition until Tuesday but goals by Djibril Sidibe and Thomas Lemar earned Monaco a deserved win. Lloris saved a first-half penalty from Radamel Falcao and made several other great stops.
“We are in a process, in a period in the club where we need to improve. We’re in the third step of the project,” Pochettino, whose side are undefeated after 12 Premier League games, said.
“Maybe we feel bad now, disappointed, but tomorrow is another day and we need to look forward.
“We’re in a good position in the Premier League and we need to compete on Saturday (at Chelsea),” he added with Spurs in fifth, four points behind their next opponents who are top.
Monaco goalscorer Sidibe said their achievement in winning the group was a reward for their attacking style.
“We saw how good the spirit is within the team tonight,” he said. “The most important thing is that we’ve qualified and what shines through is that we’ve got a team that wants to play attacking football, something we proved again in this match.” (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris)