Mauricio Pochettino admits making mistakes with 3-5-2 system
Mauricio Pochettino took his share of the blame for "sloppy" Tottenham's 1-0 Champions League semi-final, first-leg defeat by Ajax Amsterdam after admitting he used the wrong tactics.
Pochettino's side made a dismal start as Donny van de Beek put Ajax ahead after just 15 minutes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Ajax dominated the first half until Pochettino completely changed his game plan by switching from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-4-2 system.
Aided by the introduction of Moussa Sissoko for the injured Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham regained a measure of control without ever hurting Ajax with their long-ball barrage.
Pochettino conceded he had blundered with his game plan, but the Spurs manager was also angry with their lethargic start.
"Watching now, of course, I can accept it was a mistake the shape we used. But there were not too many options," Pochettino told BT Sport.
"I am not happy. But our lack of energy from the beginning made our game difficult. We were a little sloppy. It was not the shape that conceded the goal. Our approach to the game was not good. I am the manager so I have responsibility."
Tottenham were hamstrung by the absence of injured striker Harry Kane and suspended forward Son Heung Min.
But Sissoko's dynamic contribution and the return of Son for next week's second leg in Amsterdam give Pochettino hope they can still reach the final.
He said: "It's only 1-0 down. We need to believe we can go there and win the game."
Pochettino added that the club had followed all protocols over Vertonghen who appeared to suffer a concussion in a clash with teammate Toby Alderweireld.
Vertonghen went off for treatment, but was then surprisingly sent back onto the pitch by Tottenham's medical staff.
He looked groggy and had to be helped down the tunnel after signalling he couldn't continue.
A Spurs official told Britain's Press Association after the match that the defender was fine and had passed all concussion tests, but will have further assessments.
British charity Headway said in a statement yesterday that rolling substitutes in cases of head injury would allow a team's medical staff to conduct longer off-pitch assessments.
"Assessing a player for three minutes - or even five, as was the case with Jan Vertonghen - does not allow for medical staff to make a reliable diagnosis," Headway's Luke Griggs said.
"The pressure on club medical staff is enormous and unfair, particularly in such high-stakes games such as a Champions League semi-final. - AFP, REUTERS
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now