Tottenham open new stadium with a bang
Pochettino wants them to match their 'World Cup' facilities with a top-four finish
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino claimed his club are now "World Cup winners" in terms of facilities, after opening their new state-of-the-art stadium by beating Crystal Palace 2-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Second-half goals from Son Heung Min and Christian Eriksen ensured Spurs snapped a five-game winless run in the English Premier League.
The win moved Pochettino's side back up to third at the expense of north London rivals Arsenal.
The Gunners have a game in hand over Tottenham, but victory also maintained a slender one-point lead over fifth-placed Chelsea and opened up a three-point advantage over Manchester United in the race for a top-four finish.
Pochettino underlined the need for what he believes is the "best stadium in the world" to have Champions League football next season before kick-off.
He called on his players to now perform to the level of their facilities at both the club's training ground and new home.
"Now we are World Cup winners in facilities," said Pochettino.
"Now the stadium is here and we need to be on the same level."
Tottenham have yet to win a trophy in the five years since Pochettino took charge, but have consistently punched above their weight by qualifying for the Champions League, despite a more limited budget than their top-six rivals.
Next week, EPL champions Manchester City visit in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final and Pochettino wants his side to compete for major honours in the coming years.
"We need to start to think about the new chapter, the new era, to ensure Tottenham are real contenders for the big things," he said.
"With our training ground, this new stadium, you must think big."
A run of just one point from their previous five league games left Spurs in serious peril of missing out on the Champions League next season.
Plenty of work is still to be done in their remaining six matches but, with four of them at home, he is confident they will secure a top-four finish for the fourth straight season.
"I am so confident we are going to get top four," he said.
"This group of players and of course everyone (at the club) deserve to be in the Champions League next season."
After 690 days since saying goodbye to the old White Hart Lane, Spurs returned home with plenty of pre-match pomp and ceremony with an operatic performance of "Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur" and fireworks before kick-off.
The spectacular 62,062-seater Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which looks like a spaceship landed in one of London's grittier neighbourhoods, cost around £1 billion (S$1.77b).
It is expected to be the catalyst to take the club to the next level, as the club yesterday announced a world-record net profit of £113 million in the 2017/18 season.
Fans had arrived early to enjoy the incredible array of eating and drinking facilities in the stadium - including the Goal Line Bar which, at 65 metres, is the longest bar in Europe, according to the club.
Other modern features include a retractable turf pitch which conceals a permanent artificial surface housed beneath which will be used to stage American NFL games.
There are many pointers to the past too, with one wall dedicated to Bill Nicholson, the last manager to lead Tottenham to the English league title in 1961.
Now the pressure will be on to deliver some silverware into the brand-new trophy room.
Yet, at half-time, Spurs were facing the prospect of dropping out of the top four for the first time since November, with Chelsea beating Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge.
And it was an on-loan Chelsea striker who nearly did his parent club a huge favour five minutes into the second half when Palace's Michy Batshuayi curled just beyond Hugo Lloris' far post.
Spurs were left lamenting their luck when Toby Alderweireld's last-minute own goal cost them a deserved point at Liverpool last Sunday, but they had fortune on their side moments later.
Son's shot was headed straight down Vicente Guaita's throat until a big deflection off Luka Milivojevic left the Spaniard completely wrong-footed as the ball rolled into the bottom corner.
Harry Kane could not cap a momentous night with a goal.
But the England captain was involved in Spurs' second 10 minutes from time, as he broke into the area before the ball fell kindly for Eriksen to force home from close range.
"It was very emotional like the last game at (the old) White Hart Lane. A very special day," Pochettino said.
"We started to feel that it's home, that this is going to be such an important place for the future." - AFP, REUTERS