Blame Pochettino for Spurs tumble
Argentinian's perplexing tactics to blame for Spurs' exit
(Djibril Sidibe 48, Thomas Lemar 53)
(Harry Kane 52-pen)
The party ended early.
The lights came on to reveal a Tottenham Hotspur looking worse for wear.
Their inexperience told. At times, the naiveness was shocking.
At least the 2-1 away defeat by Monaco yesterday morning (Singapore time) put them out of their misery quick.
They are out of the Champions League with a group match still to play.
Tottenham's tally of four points from five matches showed just how ill-prepared they were.
BAD NIGHT: Tottenham crashed out, partly due to their unsettled backline with Kevin Wimmer (left, in blue) playing in central defence in place of the rested Jan Vertonghen.
If they can't at least draw against CSKA Moscow in their remaining game, they won't even make it to the Europa League.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino played the gambler and got his fingers burnt.
Probably with one eye on this weekend's clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea, the Argentinian left right back Kyle Walker and centre half Jan Vertonghen out of his starting line-up.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino. PHOTO: REUTERS
He would learn that the art of juggling domestic affairs and European commitments is a tough one to master.
What's perplexing though, is why he would prioritise the Premier League over the Champions League, which Spurs had qualified for only the second time (under the current format).
Their defensive vulnerability at the Stade Louis II turned out to be a recurring theme throughout the match.
Kevin Wimmer, playing in the heart of the backline in place of Vertonghen, couldn't provide the guile and assurance that were badly needed on a night Monaco got their creative juices flowing at full tilt.
The decision-making and positioning of Kieran Trippier, Walker's replacement on the flank, was atrocious from start to finish.
The blend of uncertainty at the back and the high offensive line Pochettino employed turned out to be the perfect recipe for disaster.
The way they started the match, it was only a matter of time before they conceded a goal.
And both of Monaco's goals came from Spurs' right.
Shortly after half-time, the impressive Benjamin Mendy easily turned young Harry Winks before sending in a cross for Djibril Sidibe to head Monaco into the lead.
Spurs somehow got themselves back into the game, but it was a brief reprieve.
Dele Alli's brilliant first touch in the penalty box drew a clumsy foul by Kamil Glik, and Harry Kane netted from the spot to put Spurs level in the 52nd minute.
But the visitors' hopeless defending was exposed almost immediately after they scored the equaliser.
A deep cross by Sidibe from the right to the left found the lively Thomas Lemar unmarked, and the diminutive midfielder drilled a shot into the bottom corner, as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris barely moved.
Spurs' inability to handle the battles on two fronts showed a lack of depth.
But Monaco's winning goal, coming a mere 39 seconds after Spurs had equalised, also revealed a frail state of mind - a fatal weakness at the highest level.
That Monaco could even afford to have a penalty by Radamel Falcao saved in the first half showed the gulf Spurs still must bridge to comfortably mix it with the continent's best.
Pochettino put his hands up after the defeat, and admitted that he needs to "add more quality in the squad" to challenge on the European front.
Then again, he gave up the opportunity to do exactly that during the summer, when defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama was the only recruit who could truly strengthen the side.
Pochettino has to bear full responsibility for Spurs' failed Champions League campaign.
Kane and Co were simply not ready for the step-up to Europe.
It was an abject display... There was no intensity in their play, totally outplayed, outmuscled, outworked by this Monaco team. They look a shadow of themselves... last season you would never have seen a Tottenham team get overpowered like this, get outrun.
- Former Man United defender Rio Ferdinand
They’ve made naive decisions in the Champions League and Tottenham are being punished. Positions you take in the Premier League don’t get punished. Here they do. They were wide open at the back, disorganised in midfield. The Champions League has been a real learning curve and they’ve been found out.
- Former Manchester United and Everton defender Phil Neville
Spurs boss: we need more depth
Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham's squad were too thin to cope with the demands of the Champions League.
Spurs' hopes of progressing to the last 16 were dashed after a 2-1 loss to Monaco left them three points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen, with whom they have an inferior head-to-head record.
Harry Kane gave the visitors temporary hope when he cancelled out Djibril Sidibe's opener with a penalty, but a third goal in four second-half minutes from Thomas Lemar sealed the French side's victory.
Hugo Lloris, again his side's stand-out performer, had earlier saved a spot-kick from Radamel Falcao.
The result caps a miserable campaign for Tottenham, who have taken just one point from their four games against Monaco and Leverkusen, while losing both of their home matches at Wembley.
Injuries to key players have certainly played a part and Pochettino said his squad would need strengthening if they are to avoid similar disappointment in future.
Vincent Janssen and Moussa Sissoko, two summer signings yet to fire, both came on in the second half but neither was able to turn the tide.
"Maybe after five games, we do not show enough quality to share two tough competitions in the Premier League and Champions League," Pochettino said.
"Our objective is to be competitive in the Premier League and Champions League, but we need to show more, maybe to add more quality in our squad.
"We have quality, yes, to compete in the Premier League but maybe to share both, maybe after today we see we struggle a little bit.
"When you have some problems, it is difficult to be competitive in both competitions.
"I am upset with that game and the way we conceded goals but, in the same way, I am quiet and calm because our project is not finished today."
While Monaco are guaranteed to go through as group winners alongside Leverkusen, Tottenham can secure third place and qualification for the Europa League with a draw at home to CSKA Moscow next month.
The second-tier tournament, however, has proven a nightmare to juggle with the Premier League in recent seasons, but Pochettino dismissed the idea that missing out might prove beneficial.
"It is good for the club to go into the Europa League and try to go further in the competition," he said.
"Remember last season we played against Borussia Dortmund and we struggled a little bit. That level was like Champions League."
Jan Vertonghen was left on the bench, perhaps with Saturday's grudge match against Chelsea in mind, given he will be the only left back available while Danny Rose is suspended domestically and Ben Davies out with an ankle problem.
As well as physical issues, however, there is also the psychological aspect of playing in two high-level competitions.
"That is the challenge," Pochettino said.
"I said the challenge would not be physical or tactical but to manage your mind." - PA Sport.