Pochettino – No regrets over Townsend, it was not personal, just business

The Crystal Palace winger is back at White Hart Lane, but in the away dressing room, nine months after fitness-coach row that would see him sold in January.

Mauricio Pochettino will not waver from his hard line approach at Tottenham as he prepares to face one of the players he froze out last season.

Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend will make his first return to White Hart Lane on Saturday since leaving his boyhood club in January.

He was axed from the first-team fold by Spurs’ ­Argentinian boss following a post-match, on-pitch bust-up with one of the club’s fitness coaches in November and never played for them again.

Pochettino said before the Crystal Palace game; “I think the discipline is very important for success. It’s important all players want to be part of the team, and play for the team.

“That is very ­important, to show respect for everyone at the club. That is one of the principal things that for me is very ­important.”

The breach of discipline in the eyes of Pochettino marked the start of Townsend’s Tottenham downfall.

When he banished the England international, he said: “When you behave in the wrong way you always need to pay.”

But he insisted the row with the coach was not the reason for Townsend’s £12million exit to Newcastle, who sold him on to Palace this summer following their relegation to the Championship.

He said: “Football is full of hard decisions. It’s not about personal things or issues. We had a good relationship. We took a professional decision.

“If a player’s not happy because they want to play more, then they try and find another way to try and play.

“Andros is a classic winger. He plays wider, but it’s not about his qualities. He wanted to play more and feel important in the team.

“At Tottenham it was difficult, because he was sharing duties with Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Dele Alli and Nacer Chadli.”

Of the argument between Townsend and the coach, Pochettino added: “This was a problem during one week. There wasn’t too much opportunity to play after that.

“I don’t remember well, but there wasn’t too much ­possibility to rotate the squad.”

Nabil Bentaleb is the latest Spurs player to fall victim to his manager’s ruthless streak.

The Algeria midfielder has gone from being one of ­Tottenham’s big hopes when Tim Sherwood was manager to falling totally out of favour last season and no longer featuring in the new manager’s plans.

“Yes, he is training with the Under-21s not with the first team, because he wanted to leave,” said Pochettino. “I said, ‘OK you can leave’, and he is waiting to try to find a place away from Tottenham.

(Daily Mirror)

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