Mauricio Pochettino admitted he got his tactics wrong in Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Slicker and sharper than their hosts, Ajax’s crop of talented youngsters pinned Spurs back during an utterly dominant opening 30 minutes where Pochettino had set his team up in a 5-3-2 formation.
Ajax were able to find space in midfield and got their deserved goal when Donny van de Beek netted a priceless away goal.
“Watching now of course I can accept it was a mistake the shape we used,” Pochettino told BT Sport.
“But there were not too many options. I am not happy – you cannot guess what happens if we play in a different way. But our lack of energy and [we were] a little sloppy.
“It was the not the shape that conceded the goal. Our approach to the game was not good. I am the manager so I have responsibility.
A head injury to Jan Vertonghen forced the Spurs boss to change things before the break, allowing for the introduction of Moussa Sissoko to beef up the midfield and switch to a 4-4-2.
Spurs looked a different side, finding more opportunities to force Ajax back, although they failed to produce the quality in the final third to score an equaliser. “After we conceded the goal – 25 to 30 minutes in – we started to be in the game,” said Pochettino’.
“When Moussa Sissoko was in, he provided good energy and we played better.
“Second half we pushed them deeper and pressed in a way we wanted to press. The second half gives us hope for the second leg.”