Mauricio Pochettino insisted he had no regrets regarding his team selection despite Tottenhama s exit from the Europa League after a 2-0 defeat by Fiorentina in the second leg, that is likely to be remembered for a howler by misfiring striker Roberto Soldado, in front of goal.
Tottenham had tied the first leg at 1-1 and an away goal would have given them a massive advantage. The Argentine made seven changes keeping Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Chelsea in mind.
It was a big decision on the manager’s part but it looked like it would bode well for the team and for Pochettino himself as Spurs began brightly, but the full time score in the second leg read 2-0 eventually.
Mario Gomez and Chelsea loanee Mohamed Salah scored for the home side after they capitalised on mistakes by Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen. The match could have been very different if Christian Eriksen been awarded a first-half penalty or, and more crucially, Soldado had scored. The under-confident former Valencia player decided to pass out to Nacer Chadli when he had the opportunity to shoot himself and the under hit ball was gathered comfortably by Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto.
“We are all disappointed, the player, too,” Pochettino said of Soldado’s chance.
“It is normal. This one was the first final for us and all players are disappointed, but now we need to look forwards, to recover quickly, because on Sunday we have another game. It is impossible to change the game now.
“It is true that it was key, this action. You need some luck to score sometimes if you are to win the games.
“It is true that the second half we made some mistakes and we take a risk and Fiorentina scored.
“We did not score and, if we want to analyse the game, it is easy: Fiorentina scored, we didn’t score and in football you don’t score it is difficult to win games.
“I think they scored more than us and we didn’t score. If we analyse the performance, we played very well again but didn’t score in the first half.
“You only deserve to go through to the next round if you score and they scored more goals than us.”
Asked if he regretted not starting Kane, who usually plays in place of Soldado,the manager said, “No. We analyse always and try to pick the best team for every game. I repeat a I think we played very well. We created chances and needed luck to score. There is no regret about that. It is my job, it is my decision. Sometimes you need luck. We did not score and they go to the next round.a
“Fiorentina made nine changes, we made seven changes,” the Tottenham boss added
“I don’t know how to explain – we are in a busy period and when you have a strong squad, you need to give the opportunity to play to all.
“It is not about selection it is about performance and our performance was very good in the first half. We deserve maybe 2-0 because I think there was a great chance for us and a clear penalty.
“We played well and dominated the game, but this is football. It is easy to explain as we saw tonight.”