LONDON – Tottenham Hotspur’s move to a new stadium can push them to join Europe’s biggest clubs, manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Sunday as his side bade farewell to White Hart Lane with a 2-1 victory over Manchester United.
Victory with goals by Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane meant Tottenham are assured of finishing as runners-up to Chelsea in the Premier League, their best top flight finish for 54 years.
Worries remain about the effect playing at Wembley next season will have on a side who have been unbeatable at home this season, but Pochettino believes the fact that they will be playing in a new 61,000-seater stadium adjacent to their current ground in 2018-19 will take the club to the next level.
“We were talking a lot and we believe that when the new stadium opens the doors, it will help the club to reach the last level,” Pochettino, whose side racked up a 14th consecutive home league win, told reporters.
“That is our expectation. Because with the training ground, the new facilities and the new stadium will put the team and the club in the last level in Europe.”
Tottenham have been on an upward trajectory since Pochettino took charge, finishing fifth, third and now second.
The only disappointment this season was not being able to overhaul Chelsea and struggling in the Champions League where they exited in the group stage.
“It is true we are disappointed when you are close and fighting to win the Premier League,” he said.
“Second position is fantastic for us with 80 points and being unbeaten at White Hart Lane in the last season here.”
While Tottenham rejoiced, it was a sobering day for United who are now likely to finish sixth in Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge — a place below where they finished under Louis van Gaal last season.
Mourinho made eight changes to the side that reached the Europa League final in midweek with a 1-1 draw against Celta Vigo at Old Trafford and they were no match for a home side who would have scored more but for the saves of David de Gea.
The Portuguese said he had no regrets though about prioritising the Europa League final against Ajax when a Champions League spot will be up for grabs.
“I am not upset because we had to make that decision,” he said. “When people say we gambled, we didn’t gamble, we didn’t choose the Europa League — we had to do it.
“Because if I have Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Tim Fosu-Mensah, if I had these guys I can rotate, I can go for every match. When I have 14, 15 players, I can’t do it. It’s as simple as that.”