Mauricio Pochettino questions Tottenham's readiness to win a trophy
Mauricio Pochettino has questioned Tottenham's readiness to win a trophy and admits the squad must be strengthened in the summer.
At the start of the month Spurs were still the hunt on three fronts this season but slip-ups in the Premier League and defeat to Gent in the Europa League mean they are now realistically down to one.
The FA Cup is full of hurdles too. Even if they overcome Millwall in the quarter-finals, Tottenham are likely to have to beat two of the league's top six if they are to end their nine-year wait for silverware.
It means Pochettino's men may be left chasing a place in the top four again, a scrap that resumes on Sunday at home to ninth-placed Stoke.
A second consecutive season in the Champions League would be a considerable achievement - one Tottenham have never achieved before - but there is a sense Pochettino, and his talented group of players, need more.
"I think that we have pushed the expectation higher but that is normal because last season we were there - second, third in the league and that is good," Pochettino said.
"But my question is maybe we are not ready. We need to wait, build the foundations. It's a problem always - to be patient, to arrive.
"But the important thing is the club. Our chairman has built the foundation. New facilities on the training ground, new stadium to provide and to be a better team, better club, bigger club.
"We're on the way to build one of the best clubs in Europe. But now we must be patient.
"We have patience to build and try to work hard and try to find the players that we can add to achieve that. Work hard and be clever; that is very important."
Tottenham cannot compete with the likes of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs in the transfer market and their spending power has been restricted further while their new stadium is being built.
But Pochettino has relied heavily on the same core of players this season, with Victor Wanyama the only signing from last summer to have made a positive impression.
By contrast, Vincent Janssen, Moussa Sissoko and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou have all struggled.
"Always football is about quality. And being clever," Pochettino said.
"But it's true. It's always about improving. We must add quality to the team if we want to fight for big things. And we will try, like always in football.
"Now is not the moment to start to talk. I think as always it's our job as a club to find the right profile and player that can play for us."
Tottenham will be without Danny Rose (knee) and Erik Lamela (hip) against Stoke.
Mark Hughes admits he cannot rule out Stoke being thumped by Tottenham once again.
But the Potters boss is confident his side are in much better shape now than the last time the teams met in terms of their chances of securing a positive result against Pochettino's men.
Stoke have been thrashed 4-0 at home by Spurs in each of the last two meetings between the clubs.
The most recent came in September during a sequence in which Hughes' team failed to win any of their opening seven Premier League games of the season, losing four of them.
They head into this weekend's clash at White Hart Lane with their previous six league matches having featured three victories - including a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last time out - and only one defeat.
Hughes said: "We have improved markedly since that game (in September).
"I would be very surprised if the result was the same - although there is a possibility, because they are a good side.
"But we'll have to make sure we play well to make sure that doesn't happen.
"I would imagine if we start brightly, then that is the key to it. Hopefully we'll be nice and bright, sharp and ready to go."
Xherdan Shaqiri is set to make his return to Stoke's matchday squad after missing the last three games with a calf problem.
Phil Bardsley, who limped off in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last time out, and Wilfried Bony, ruled out of that contest because of illness, are both expected to be available.