Tottenham’s failure to get over the line in big matches is not down to a poor mentality, says boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs’ latest disappointment came in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend when they threw away an early lead to lose to 2-1 to Manchester United.
It was their eighth last-four FA Cup loss in a row, going back to 1993, and followed their Champions League exit to Juventus earlier this season, also when they were in a commanding position.
Pochettino has made Spurs a fixture in the top-four of English football, but they have found it difficult to win the big matches that would help them go on to capture a trophy.
The boss insists it is not a mental issue, though.
“A lot of topics you can blame in football when you lose – the tactics, the selection, the approach of the game, the mentality,” he said. “In the end when you lose, you lose. Every single opinion is right.
“I don’t believe it’s about mentality. We always talk about competing.
“The mentality is to have the believe and the feeling that you can beat any team. Tottenham has shown in the last few seasons it can compete and beat any team – Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus. And of course in the Premier League.
“Now the last step is to win. We’re close, we’re not going to give up.
“When you get close the most important thing is to keep going. Work tougher, working harder and believe.”
Spurs are on course for Champions League qualification for the third successive season but it is not looking as comfortable as it was a few weeks ago.
When they beat Stoke and Chelsea drew with West Ham at the beginning of April, they were 10 points ahead of their London rivals, but by the time they take on Watford on Monday that could be down to two.
Spurs have three home games left, with a trip to West Brom closing their Premier League away campaign, so should still get the job done.
“I promise you I am only focused on my team and provide them with good tools to compete on Monday,” Pochettino added.
“We need to forget what happened behind us. We need to win. It’s in our hands to be in the top four and play Champions League. It’s only up to us to achieve this.”