Mauricio Pochettino has vowed to lead from the front as he tackles his “toughest season” yet as Tottenham manager.
The Argentinian has delivered three successive top-three Premier League finishes, spending far less money than his rivals, but the 2018-19 campaign promises to be a challenge for a number of reasons.
Pochettino, despite calling on his club to be “brave and take risks” in the transfer market, was unable to make any summer signings, while nine of his players were involved in the World Cup for its entirety.
Futhermore, Spurs are currently enduring more disruption after plans to move into their new stadium were delayed, meaning they will now play at least three league games – and their Champions League group games – back at Wembley, starting with Fulham on Saturday.
That is not even factoring in the further strengthening of their rivals, with the majority of the other top-six clubs splashing the cash in the summer.
Pochettino had chances to walk away from the club this summer, with Real Madrid and Chelsea both interested in his services, but he instead chose to sign a five-year contract at Spurs.
“For everything, for me it will be the toughest season and I think if we want success we have to give more than our best,” he said.
“It’s not enough 100 per cent, it’s 200 per cent. We know from inside that it will be hard, the season, and because we are warriors we want to fight.
“We want to be proud at the end, we want success and we do not want to complain or make excuses. I am a winner and I love the challenge, so that is why I feel full energy. We want to go again.
“When you are in a difficult situation, this is the moment when you need to show that you are there.
“It is easy when everything is good to be there, but when the winter is coming it’s easy to run away. I want to be there in the frontline fighting and trying to with all the circumstances that, today, are in the club.
“I feel the responsibility to be there and that is why I am here.”
Tottenham are waiting for their new stadium to be built (Steve Paston/PA)
If Spurs are unable to match their achievements of recent years, Pochettino believes the finger of blame should not be pointed at chairman Daniel Levy, who was criticised last week when the club could not add to their squad.
“First of all, I think we are going to be successful. There is no point in blaming the club, the board or Daniel,” the boss added.
“He is doing with the board an amazing effort to create the legacy that will endure for a generation and forever.
“You cannot blame a person that does not sleep because he is thinking about how to deliver the best job for the club.
“It’s a business of course. But sometimes the fans need to think. It is easy for those responsible such as Daniel to think, ‘OK, rather than investing in a massive training ground, new stadium, let’s put the money into players. Happy?’
“Then in 20 years, I am going to be remembered for winning the Premier League. In the end, there would still be 35,000 in a stadium.”