Mauricio Pochettino has claimed trophies should not be the only measure of success at Tottenham.
Pochettino pointed to Manchester United needing seven years to win a Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson and argued Spurs are still “winning” through their progress on and off the pitch.
His side defeated Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, arguably the highlight of Pochettino’s three-and-a-half-year tenure, which has also included third and second-place finishes in the league.
With a new training ground built and an £800million stadium due to open next season, the club is moving in the right direction – but Tottenham are still yet to win a trophy under Pochettino’s leadership.
He insists, however, there is more to success than silverware.
“I always say the same when people ask me – Man United with Ferguson spent six years and in year seven won the title,” Pochettino said.
“With the project we have here and the philosophy and everything – it is completely different today the Premier League – when you compare with the other teams that compete with us, for me it is a very successful period.
“If only [the aim] is to win a title maybe it is not a successful period.”
Pochettino added: “But I think we are in a different project and for me of course I would like to win because I love to win. I am a winner. I feel I am a winner and of course I want to win a title.
“At the moment we are working hard and giving our best to try to achieve that but there are many things happening in the club and the project that make us feel that we are winning.”
United did win the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup before finally securing a first Premier League title under Ferguson in 1993 but Pochettino has dismissed the importance of domestic cup competitions.
Tottenham now turn their attention from Madrid to the Premier League’s bottom-club Crystal Palace on Sunday and they will be keen to avoid the sort of come-down referred to by the club’s fans – and supporters of other clubs for that matter – as ‘Spursy’.
Pochettino says those days are over.
“To be honest I have heard of the term. I heard people say we are not that anymore,” Pochettino said.
“After we arrived (in 2014) our first game was against West Ham and everyone was like, ‘wow, it’s West Ham and Tottenham lost three times to them the season before’.
“It would be a difficult game at Upton Park, and then QPR at home, they had Harry Redknapp in charge.
“When the Premier League fixtures were announced, people were like, ‘wow look where we are starting the season’. And my face was like the Emoticon with big eyes. ‘We are Tottenham, come on’.
“From that moment we started to work hard to change that perception. We are Tottenham. We must be there and must feel we can smash everyone.”
Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld will miss the game against Palace with groin and hamstring injuries respectively while Pochettino suggested he would rotate the side that beat Madrid.
“It is not only the physical effort, it’s the mental effort too,” Pochettino said.
“Maybe we have some players that need to rest because it is a big risk. It is not only a big risk but maybe they cannot perform like they perform on Wednesday.”