Mauricio Pochettino said Chelsea’s victory over Tottenham on Monday proved he has matured as a manager in the years since his first spell in England.
The frantic 4-1 win in north London came amid two red cards for the hosts as emotions threatened to boil over, reminiscent of the so-called “Battle of Stamford Bridge” when Pochettino’s Spurs lost discipline and scored two goals. lead to recognition of the 2015–16 Premier League title.
After that game, which confirmed Leicester’s title, Pochettino was criticized for allowing his players to lose control of the match and miss the chance to win a first league title since 1961.
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However, it was his former side who failed to discipline on Monday, with Spurs losing Christian Romero and Destiny Udogi either side of the break before Chelsea capitalized on a late hat-trick from striker Nicholas Jackson to seal a third straight league win. .
Pochettino has previously said he believes he is calmer now than when he was appointed to Southampton in 2013, and that composure was evident among his players as they remained calm on a stormy night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I learned a lot from the Battle of the Bridge seven years ago,” he said ahead of his side’s home clash with Manchester City on Sunday.
“I was criticized a lot after this game. Too many people said it might be my fault because I didn’t give or teach the players how to behave and control their emotions in a game like this. I learned a lot.
“What I can say is that the type of game (on Monday) depends on tactics, form, approach to the game and how you prepare. It’s also about how you control your emotions.
“One thing we can say is that my players did a really good job of controlling their emotions. We played 10-12 minutes not in the best way, not the way we wanted. When we missed the goal, it was a big blow for us, we were in shock.
“After that moment we started to control the game. With the score 11 vs 11, we created chances, but the goal was not counted. Then we forced them to make mistakes. We played for 120 minutes. I think we deserved to win. It was crazy, but fair.”
The game is notable for the fact that a total of 21 minutes were added after nine VAR checks, resulting in both red cards and penalties in Chelsea’s favor and five goals disallowed.
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Pochettino defended the role of the video referee and said Spurs could have no complaints about the result.
“Tell me one (VAR) decision that was unfair,” he said. “I think there were even a few decisions where Tottenham got lucky. It’s not that VAR was (unfair) towards us. If you watch the game again, Tottenham were very lucky to finish just two times behind us.
“When there are emotions on the field, it is difficult to control them from the outside (as a coach). I was guilty seven years ago. But Ange (Postecoglou) was not guilty (on Monday).
“I found out. I watched the game again. It’s important to see how players stay calm in difficult times and force Tottenham to make mistakes and then win the game. That was an option.”
Chelsea will be aiming for their fourth win in six league games when they face Pep Guardiola’s champions on Sunday.
Pochettino added: Chelsea are never underdogs. You always feel like you are Chelsea. When you say Chelsea, it’s impossible (to feel like an outsider). There is a story. We cannot go and say that we are the victim of the day. We need to try to be the main characters with our own personality, with our own character.
“We went to Tottenham and finished 4-1. It shows that we have the character and talent to compete and compete with the best clubs in England. Now it’s about building that confidence, which will certainly help us be more competitive.”