Mauricio Pochettino has come out in defence of struggling Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp – but fully intends to inflict more misery on his side when Tottenham travel to Anfield.
A Spurs win at Anfield on Saturday evening would move them seven points clear of Liverpool and surely end any lingering hopes of a title challenge for Klopp’s side, who are already 13 points behind Chelsea.
Our weekly Red Letter feature examines the struggles at Liverpool this month and looks at how Klopp solves his problems during his final year at BVB.
After just one victory in 10 matches, the suspicion is the Reds are struggling to maintain Klopp’s high-octane philosophy through the second half of the season.
It is a balance Pochettino has also had to strike with his own pressing style of play.
“I cannot speak for another coach but all the managers, Klopp with his experience, he is clever like other managers to provide good balance,” Pochettino said.
“If you win you are a genius, if you don’t win you are criticised. You need to be natural, spontaneous and believe in the way you play, use your methods.
“It’s an easy answer: only work in the way you believe you can achieve big things.”
Tottenham fitness updates
Pochettino also refused to give a timeframe on the return of Danny Rose after the defender saw a specialist on Monday about his knee injury.
Rose will miss Saturday’s game against Liverpool and is not expected back before the end of the month.
That would mean him sitting out two Europa League fixtures against Gent, as well as an FA Cup tie away to Fulham in between, and a Premier League game at home to Stoke.
His earliest return date is likely to be the home fixture against Everton in the league on March 5.
“He is very positive, we are very positive,” Pochettino said. “It is not a big issue, a minor problem, small problem.”
Jan Vertonghen will begin training again with the squad next week after overcoming an ankle injury but Erik Lamela is further away as he continues to wrestle with a niggling hip problem.
It means Tottenham are likely to stick with the back four they fielded against Middlesbrough last weekend, with Eric Dier taking Vertonghen’s place in the centre and Ben Davies deputising for Rose at left-back.
Pochettino has Kieran Trippier available again this weekend.
The full-back has shaken off a hip injury but is more likely to feature against Gent and Fulham in the cup fixtures later this month.