Prickly Pochettino defends controversial Dembele omission

Date published: Friday 22nd September 2017 9:20

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has defended his management of Mousa Dembele.

Eyebrows were raised when Dembele was left out of the starting line-up for Tottenham’s goalless draw with Swansea, before the Belgian was reinstated in the Carabao Cup against Barnsley.

Dembele did not even make an appearance from the bench against Swansea when Spurs were chasing a win, with Pochettino using only two of his substitutes at Wembley.

Fans questioned the decision to leave the midfielder out of a Premier League match completely before starting him at home to Championship opposition in the Carabao Cup third round.

But Pochettino, described as ‘prickly’ by The Guardian in his press conference on Thursday, defended the call.

“It is so important to manage him properly,” Pochettino said. “We have very good communication with the doctor, physio, sports science and coaching staff to try to help him because to help him is to help the team.

“He is a player who I have told you many times is, for me, one of the geniuses that I have met in football. It is key to keep him fit and try to provide all the quality that he has to the team. He shares the decisions. That relationship is important in order to help him.

“I cannot say anything [about Dembélé playing at less than 100%] because that is a private matter and it is more the doctor who can explain better,” Pochettino said. “But I think after I’m here at the club for three seasons, you trust in what I say and our fans trust in our decisions.

“It’s a private matter, a medical matter, and it’s so difficult to speak about – first of all, because I don’t have the vocabulary in English to explain everything properly and then, to make a mistake, is so easy. It’s better to be cautious about what I say.”

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