Mauricio Pochettino dodges suggestions he could soon become Barcelona boss

15 February 2017 08:09

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has sidestepped suggestions he could be next in line to take over at Barcelona.

Barca's season is on the brink of collapse after they were thrashed 4-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

They also trail table-topping Real Madrid by a point in La Liga, having played two games more than the league leaders.

Their crushing loss at the Parc des Princes has intensified speculation about the future of Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Pochettino is well-known in Spain after his three years in charge at Espanyol.

Asked about if he would be interested in taking over at the Nou Camp, Pochettino said: "It's important to be focused on the game tomorrow.

"I can't say anything about that. I'm at Tottenham. I am very happy, I have four more years on my contract, I'm enjoying an exciting project.

"It's true it's not an easy project, but I'm very happy here."

Tottenham take on Belgian side Gent on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League last 32, looking to bounce back from a damaging defeat of their own to Liverpool on Saturday.

The 2-0 loss leaves Spurs 10 points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League table and almost certainly relying on the cup competitions if they want to win a trophy this season.

Pochettino said he has taken a soft approach with his disappointed players, who want the chance to put right their miserable display at Anfield.

"I tried to give love," Pochettino said. "We all felt disappointed that they suffered a lot.

"Sometimes, when your performance is not good and that game touched your pride, you don't need to kill them. The first man to kill is myself because I am responsible."

Pochettino added: "What happened against Liverpool, all the players want the chance to play again and try and change the feeling.

"But we'll see. Maybe we will make some changes, but not too many."

Tottenham travel to Fulham on Sunday in the FA Cup fifth round and Pochettino may opt to pick a strong side at the Ghelamco Arena, in the hope of putting the tie to bed.

Their second leg at Wembley comes three days before a league game against Stoke.

Danny Rose and Erik Lamela are still out with knee and hip injuries respectively while Jan Vertonghen is close to overcoming an ankle problem, but has also stayed at home.

Hugo Lloris is expected to keep his place in goal and the Frenchman made a passionate plea for unity in Belgium.

"It's our responsibility to create a great dynamic for this club," Lloris said.

"It's a good opportunity for every player in this squad to create history for this club, but for that you need to put in a lot of effort, be committed with the team and your club, and show your abilities and skills all together.

"We can't win with one or two players. It's about the team, all together."

Gent sit eighth in First Division A and adrift of the play-offs, where they need to finish to have a chance of securing Europa League qualification again.

Hein Vanhaezebrouck's side showed signs of a return to form when they beat league leaders Club Brugge two weeks ago but then lost 1-0 at home to relegation battlers Eupen on Saturday.

"We are Gent and we are not afraid of anybody," Vanhaezebrouck said.

"The game will be very difficult. We play against not only a team from the Premier League which is already an impressive league but secondly a team that is fighting to win the Premier League.

"They did maybe not the best thing losing to Liverpool but that can happen.

"It's a team that plays very good football and has a lot of quality in every line. It will be a very hard task for us."

Source: PA


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