The Word: Pochettino’s Kane explanation a real slap in the face for Tranmere

There is no denying that Tottenham Hotspur have been a different animal since Mauricio Pochettino took over in 2014, as Spurs have since gone on to forge a regular challenge for the top Premier League positions.

The Argentine also deserves a lot of praise for the part he played in England’s glorious World Cup mission in Russia, having brought the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier out of their shells to be able to take on, literally, the world.

But for all the good the 46-year-old has been responsible for, the slim taste of success Tottenham have mustered since his arrival, the former White Hart Lane residents still do not have a trophy to show for it.

The air, however, may have gone to Pochettino’s head, judging by his post-match comments following his side’s resounding FA Cup win over Tranmere on Friday.

The Lilywhites travelled to Prenton Park having smashed Cardiff in Wales three days prior, looked to continue their strong vein of form – having lost one of their last nine – and did so comfortably.

So much so that by the 60th minute, the hosts were out of contention by four goals to nil and offered little to suggest a shock comeback was on the cards, but that did not stop Pochettino from introducing England captain Harry Kane late into the game to rub salt into Tranmere’s wounds.

The 25-year-old already had 26 goals in the bag for club and country this season before his introduction on the 75th minute, and swiftly set about adding another to his personal tally as he fired home seven minutes after coming on.

Mauricio Pochettino on playing Harry Kane vs Tranmere

When later questioned by the media, Pochettino found himself defending his switch between hat-trick hero Fernando Llorente and Kane, with questions raised pointing towards the move being a sign of ruthlessness.

The former Southampton boss hit back saying it was more a sign of respect to the opposition and to the FA Cup itself, but those words were far sourer than savoury.

“It was respect,” Sky Sports quoted the former centre-back as stating. “Respect the people, respect the opponent. They’re not going to have many chances to see Harry Kane play here in a competition like the FA Cup.

“I think it was a great atmosphere. For different reasons I decided to make a change and put Kane on the pitch, but one of them is that.

“It’s important to show respect to the people here so they could see Harry Kane, who is an icon in English football. It is difficult in that division to see it. It was important to see him in action.”

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To say that respect was given to the opposition as they are not going to see the level of quality Kane possesses in the division they are in is a far greater insult to Tranmere than it is a compliment, and acts as a slap in the face to their efforts.

It may be true that they will never see the likes of Kane and his teammates, at least for the time being, in a competitive match, but how can it be respectful to point that out?

People say take the FA Cup seriously and play your big name stars, but when the game is already done and dusted, there is no need to kick a man when he is down and then mock them for being there. If Pochettino truly wanted to show Tranmere respect, he could have easily started Kane from the first kick-off rather than the striker who looks set to leave before the end of the month.

Pochettino’s words did him no favours, either, as they came just days after one of his key players admitted the club had got carried away with the prospect of putting on another title challenge.

Alli had been quoted as saying after the Wolves defeat: “We had been in great form before that and maybe we got a little bit carried away with ourselves.

“They’re a fantastic team, and maybe we just thought we would win the game. But you can’t do that if you want to win things and be a top, top team. You have to be clinical and ruthless in every game, and you can’t afford to take your foot off the gas, and we all had a look at ourselves after and we know we can’t let that happen.”

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