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Pochettino: Focus should be on top four, not cups

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has always made it clear his priorities are the English Premier League and Champions League, so the 2-0 loss suffered by a second-string side in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) FA Cup fourth-round trip to Crystal Palace was no surprise.

Spurs still hope to move into their new £1 billion (S$1.8b) stadium this term, but clearly do not want to be playing there next season without a place among Europe's elite to entice the fans to fill the 62,00-seater venue.

They are nine points adrift of league leaders Liverpool ahead of Thursday's home game with Watford but, perhaps more importantly, have a seven-point gap over fifth-placed Arsenal in the race for Champions League places.

They also face a stern test next month against Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 of the Champions League and will have to cope without injured Harry Kane and Dele Alli until March.

Much has been made of Spurs' failure to win a trophy since the 2008 League Cup, but Pochettino said it would be a mistake to focus solely on the pursuit of silverware.

"People wish we could win some trophies. But, being realistic, we are doing so well," said Pochettino, who has yet to win a trophy with Spurs or indeed in his managerial career.

"To win the FA Cup or League Cup in England is about being lucky, not only about quality in your squad... to win a trophy is going to help the club. I don't agree with that. That only builds your ego.

"In reality, the most important thing is being consistently in the top four and playing in the Champions League. That is going to help the club to achieve the last step."

With injuries and fatigue taking their toll, it was an unfamiliar starting XI that took the field at Palace yesterday.

The Eagles went ahead through Connor Wickham before a penalty by Andros Townsend doubled the lead against his old club.

Pochettino, 46, said the season had been "tough".

"Now the targets are trying to be in the top four, to try and be close to Manchester City and Liverpool and reduce the gap. Another is to try to beat Dortmund and be in the next round.

"That will be tough. Dortmund are top of the Bundesliga and have come back from their winter holidays. They are all fresh and we are the opposite. But we have to be positive." - REUTERS