Pochettino says first-half problems were his fault

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham’s problems in the first-half were his fault as the manager, while Dean Smith was pleased with the organisation from Aston Villa.

Spurs went behind inside nine minutes to a John McGinn goal, but a late rally saw them win 3-1 thanks to a debut goal from club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and a Harry Kane double.

Pochettino admitted that his side had struggled against newly-promoted Aston Villa in the first period, but said he changed the positioning of his side at the break to improve their performance.

He told Sky Sports: “I think we started well and we created a few chances but with their first long ball, we conceded and I think that started to change everything.

“We were a little bit confused, which is my fault because I am the manager, and I think we made a lot of mistakes. It didn’t work in the first half. We started to make rushed decisions, to find different positions that didn’t help us to have the capacity to move the ball quickly and find the space that we wanted to find and that was my fault.

“In the second half, we fixed these problems. Our positional game was completely different and it helped the team to move the ball better, to control the 45 minutes.

“In that moment, I was more relaxed and it was only a matter of time to score and create chances to win the game. It is very important for us to start the season with a victory.”

Jan Vertonghen was a surprising omission from the starting XI, although Pochettino did not give much away as to why, stating that it was his decision as manager.

He added: “I think everyone needs to understand we have a decision with plenty of good players in the positions. We can only play with 11 in every game, we cannot play with 13 or 14.

“It is always the judgement of the manager and coaching staff and if we lose, then all the players I played were wrong and the decision was so bad. If we win, then we keep going but this is now my fifth season and everyone knows me. I’m going to play the players that deserve to play, or who I believe deserve to play or are the best to play.

“I don’t think it’s an issue and my decision today was to play with Toby [Alderweireld] and Davinson [Sanchez], and on the bench, players like Eric Dier or Serge Aurier can provide a good balance to the team.

(Sky Sports)

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