Pochettino’s rage at ref was Tottenham’s title woes at Burnley personified

11:20 AM ET

Nick author

BURNLEY, England — All the strain, all the expectation he had heaped upon this sport, overwhelmed Mauricio Pochettino for a telling minute. He had described Tottenham’s go to to Turf Moor as a “cup closing” and now, having misplaced, the feelings spilled over.

Because the groups left the pitch after Burnley beat Spurs 2-1 he marched as much as referee Mike Dean — who had awarded a debatable nook for the hosts’ first aim however in fact performed a minor position within the final result — and confronted him head-on. His face inches from Dean’s, fingers jabbing, he stated his piece earlier than being ushered away by the Burnley defender Phil Bardsley. As verbal broadsides go, it was fully out of character — however then Spurs’ efficiency had been too, and Pochettino knew precisely what that meant.

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What a missed alternative this was. On the face of issues, a Saturday lunchtime in Lancashire regarded the right task for Tottenham. This could have been a day wherein they received their job completed effectively and quietly, saying themselves emphatically as protagonists in a three-way title race whereas the highlight shone on Sunday’s heavyweight clashes at Previous Trafford and Wembley. However they fell quick and it’s laborious to not suppose that, come Might, Turf Moor can be pinpointed because the venue at which their desires of successful the Premier League unravelled.

By the point he emerged for his postmatch information convention, Pochettino had calmed down. He knew his full-time outburst had been a spate of referred anger: frustration at his personal errors, these of his staff, the bursting of a bubble when his staff might have gained irresistible momentum over the following two-and-a-half months.

“If somebody is accountable, it is myself and us,” he admitted. “We had in our fingers the capability, the chance, to win this sport and we did not. I knew through the week that this sport can be key to place strain on our opponents. We can not suppose now that we’re contenders. It’s a huge alternative misplaced for us.”

– Scores: Kane 7/10 on scoring return however Spurs slip up

What went incorrect? Tottenham have been undone right here for 2 basic causes: one is that they fell effectively wanting their normal fluency and ingenuity; the opposite is that they encountered a Burnley aspect that has rediscovered its greatest dogged, attritional habits and appears as soon as extra just like the staff that used to bloody big-name noses for enjoyable. It’s a mixture that meant they by no means regarded convincing — not even within the spells both aspect of half-time once they discovered a level of passing rhythm, or within the moments after the returning Harry Kane’s equaliser when each indication recommended their heads had cleared — and is why might finally they might solely take a look at themselves in defeat.

Tottenham supervisor Mauricio Pochettino confronted referee Mike Dean after shedding at Burnley. Getty

A 3rd issue was that Pochettino’s makes an attempt to show the sport labored in opposition to him this time. Towards Newcastle three weeks in the past he introduced on Fernando Llorente for Lucas Moura and noticed issues flip Spurs’ means with a 1-Zero win. Right here the Spaniard changed Harry Winks after 62 minutes and, nearly immediately, Kane equalised; these info weren’t linked although and Pochettino made a good bolder transfer when, with 14 minutes to play, Pochettino launched Erik Lamela instead of the unsure Juan Foyth. This was nearly all-out assault, Lamela and Son Heung-Min taking part in as superior wingers with Christian Eriksen behind the 2 centre-forwards, however Spurs misplaced their means badly. It was Burnley who took benefit of the open areas to look extra threatening within the moments earlier than Ashley Barnes scored their winner; Tottenham by no means regarded like discovering a means again and the sense lingered that their supervisor had been too impatient.

“The sport was by no means underneath management,” Pochettino stated afterward. That was much more the case after going gung-ho, and it value Spurs. However Pochettino had a wider level about his staff’s incapability to dictate in opposition to a Burnley aspect that ran, chased, harried, hassled, niggled and threw our bodies in entrance of every little thing, in all areas of the pitch. Their entrance two, Barnes and the primary goal-scorer Chris Wooden, make up for in sheer awkwardness what they lack in nuance; off the ball their form was impeccable and it’s some achievement for Sean Dyche to, successfully, reset a aspect that gave the impression to be plunging in direction of relegation a mere two months in the past when Everton gained 5-1 right here on Boxing Day.

Pochettino had needed his aspect to reach with the command and swagger of title contenders however they left feeling battered and bruised. An apparent silver lining was the impression of Kane, whose very presence within the beginning lineup after a six-week absence was a measure of the significance positioned on this fixture. He has historically scored freely after getting back from ankle issues however regarded notably sharp this time, nearly scoring twice earlier than working on to a fast Danny Rose throw — Dyche and Burnley have been annoyed that he had been allowed to take it a number of yards up from the place the ball went out – for that leveller. It bodes effectively for Spurs’ future assignments, with Chelsea and Arsenal up within the subsequent seven days, however was finally of little assist in Lancashire.

“Crossed cables in my thoughts,” was how Pochettino described his set-to with Dean. However free connections on the pitch have been what did the most important injury right here. Tottenham should wait 24 hours to find simply how pricey this defeat was however Pochettino knew, and so did everyone else, that no matter else occurs this weekend can be chilly consolation now.

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