Mauricio Pochettino has hit back at Pep Guardiola’s assessment of Tottenham as ‘the Harry Kane team’ by pointing out he never called his Barcelona side ‘the Lionel Messi team’.
Pochettino also branded Guardiola’s comments, made before the international break, as “very disrespectful” and “sad” but insisted his Spurs players only laughed when they heard the Manchester City manager’s remark.
Kane has scored 11 goals in his last six appearances for Tottenham, and Guardiola, speaking a fortnight ago after City had just beaten Chelsea, said: “We saw again the Harry Kane team scores every day two or three goals.”
On Friday, Pochettino said: “That didn’t affect me but the reality is it was very disrespectful for many people.
“It’s difficult to understand because he was part of the big success at Barcelona with Messi at his best, and I never said it was ‘the Messi team’. I always said it was Barcelona or Pep Guardiola.
“I think everyone deserves to be recognised as part of the success of the team. But I think many people took those words as very disrespectful for the club, and for many players that are here I think it’s a strange situation.”
He also pointedly suggested Guardiola could have been over-excited by City’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
“When it’s exciting after an amazing victory against Chelsea, sometimes [he] can struggle to keep his position and be a gentleman,” Pochettino said.
“I think it’s a sad comment because the players laugh about that. If you’re a manager you must show more, no? To be above this type of comment.
“That is my opinion like I respect his opinion but I think the players, more motivated or less motivated? I think it’s the same.
“It’s sad and it’s not right in football. Today we want to show respect, fair play and everything.”
Asked if he had spoken to Guardiola personally since, Pochettino said: “No, of course not. He hasn’t called me yet.
“Maybe after the press conference he calls me. I’m sure I will reply.”
On the pitch, Pochettino has Danny Rose and Erik Lamela back in training although he indicated they might need another “few weeks” before being ready for competitive action.
Rose told the Sun in August he would be open to a move away from Spurs but Pochettino laughed off suggestions his absence from the club’s 2018 calendar could be significant.
“He came to see me asking, ‘Gaffer why am I not in the calendar?'” Pochettino said.
“I said, ‘Because you were first of all in Central Park in New York doing your recovery, no time to put the new kit on’. I’m sure he will appear in the next few days.”
Mousa Dembele is still struggling with an ankle injury but could be back in time for the Champions League trip to Real Madrid next week.