SINGAPORE — Striker Harry Kane has not watched the match again. Mauricio Pochettino even entertained fleeting thoughts of considering his future as Tottenham manager after the match.
Undoubtedly, Spurs’ Champions League final loss to Liverpool is a lingering cloud over the new season, as players and staff try to pick themselves up from that shattering defeat.
After training at the National Stadium on Friday morning (19 July) in preparation for their International Champions Cup (ICC) tie against Juventus on Sunday, Kane and Pochettino fielded questions from the media on their plans for the upcoming season.
And both were candid about being devastated by the 0-2 defeat in Madrid, where they succumbed to an early penalty by Mohamed Salah, and then missed a host of equalising chances before conceding a late second goal by Divock Origi.
Kane started the match after being out with an injured left ankle ligament for more than a month, and looked far from his best in the final.
“I haven’t watched that match again, to be honest. As a player, you know that you could have done better, you could have done more. And to make it worse, it was probably the biggest game of many of our careers,” he said during the media conference.
“But yeah, after a while, you have to move on. I’ve been through a few such games in my career, and it makes you stronger and more determined to get back. All of us had a summer to reflect, hopefully we can come back feeling excited about the new season.”
For Pochettino, the defeat was a tough pill to swallow, particularly after the team had what he believed was “the best three weeks of training” prior to the final, with the whole squad in great spirits and desire to win the European Cup for the first time in club history.
And in the aftermath of the loss, the Argentinian manager pondered whether he should move on and seek a fresh challenge with another club.
“Of course, in such a tough defeat for both my players and staff, I thought okay, maybe it is time to start a new chapter with different players or different staff,” the 47-year-old said.
“But then, I thought, to lift the club from our low point and make it stronger than before, this might be a better challenge for me. That is why I changed my mind quickly and stayed on.”
However, Pochettino bristled when a journalist asked if Spurs could take inspiration from Liverpool’s stellar season in which they leapt from fourth to second in the English Premier League, in addition to winning the European Cup.
“I think other clubs should take inspiration from us, from Tottenham,” he said.
“We finished fourth, even though we were in a different level of financial resources from the top three clubs. We were facing pressure to open our new home stadium. But we still did more than what our expectations were last season.
“So we don’t need to be inspired by Liverpool. We have done very well ourselves.”