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Tottenham never saw cup competitions as a priority, Pochettino says

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on January 13, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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Spurs fans have long ribbed Arsenal supporters for treating fourth place in the Premier League like a trophy. They’re now being fed that same mentality from their own manager.

After a 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace in the fourth round, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said that his main focus has always been attaining a top four position in the league, and that cup competitions were secondary. He also admitted that’s a controversial point of view.

“We are going to create a debate that to win a trophy is going to help the club,” he said. “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.”

Tottenham is sitting third in the Premier League table, with Chelsea three points back in fourth and fifth-placed Arsenal six behind. Still, Spurs will experience some trepidation at the club’s recent form, crashing out of both the League Cup and the FA Cup in a four-day span. They also needed a last-gasp winner from Harry Winks to beat 19th-placed Fulham in the league last weekend, and fell 1-0 to Manchester United the match before that.

Much of the poor run of form can be attributed to horrible injury luck of late, losing both Harry Kane and Dele Alli to month-long muscle injuries, while Moussa Sissoko has also missed time of late. Still, Spurs’ failure to add in the summer window has led some to criticize the club for failing to plan for such a scenario.

While Pochettino still has a long-term mentality, he believes there is plenty of work to do. “The club is doing fantastically well,” he said after the Crystal Palace loss. “It’s so successful. In the last four or five years we’ve been fighting in different ways to achieve what the club needs, to be in the level of Chelsea, United, City, Arsenal or Liverpool. People wish we could win some trophies. But, being realistic, we are a team not built to win titles still.”

“It’s true, this season has been tough,” Pochettino continued. “But to be a contender is always difficult for us. Now the realistic 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.”

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