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Poyet: Spurs are getting closer to winning trophies again

Former Spurs midfielder Gus Poyet, who was a coach the last time the club won silverware, told Sky Sports why they are on the right track to winning another trophy.

Poyet played for Tottenham from 2001 to 2004 before returning to White Hart Lane under Juande Ramos, who led the club to the Carabao Cup in 2008 – still the most recent trophy the club has lifted, more than 16 years ago.

Spurs endured early exits from both the Carabao and FA Cups this season, but have their Champions League hopes in their own hands after thrashing Aston Villa 4-0 at Villa Park on Sunday. They can jump up into fourth spot, for 24 hours at least, when they take on Fulham live on Sky Sports Premier League on Saturday, kick-off 5.30pm.

Saturday 16th March 5:00pm Kick off 5:30pm

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The job Ange Postecoglou has done since inheriting a miserable situation in north London last year following the bad-tempered exit of Antonio Conte has impressed Poyet, who thinks his former side are on the right path to bringing the good times back to the club.

“I’ve got plenty of friends who are Spurs fans, and they’re delighted,” he told Sky Sports. “It was a massive change, and they’re really enjoying watching the team now. They know they are going to go for it in any game, in any competition. If they keep getting better there is only one way, which is up.

“The first season has been outstanding for Postecoglou, and next year the fans are going to ask for something more. That’s how it works! Can Tottenham win a trophy, or something they have been after for a long time? It’s a good start, it’s a good atmosphere at the club at the moment and everyone is enjoying watching the team at this time.

Image: Gus Poyet played for Tottenham from 2001 to 2004, making 98 appearances and scoring 23 goals

“Some people say, ‘oh, maybe next year?’. When you start with that, then 15 or 16 years go past and you don’t win. Without any doubt, it will be easier with the way the team is playing right now. They are an attacking, offensive team, and they will be closer to winning trophies.

“Unfortunately, 15 years ago or so it became more important to qualify for the Champions League than win trophies. That’s just financial. On the other side are the fans and players. The fans want players, and the players are not winners until they have won something.”

Poyet, who says he sees himself returning to England as a manager one day, finds himself in a strange situation in his current role with the Greek national team.

Despite leading them to Nations League promotion, a third-placed finish in their Euro 2024 qualifying group behind Netherlands and France and still potentially a spot in the finals, he is out of contract at the end of March with no sign of a new deal in sight.

Greece face Kazakhstan in their play-off semi-final on March 21, hoping to set up a tie with either Georgia or Luxembourg on March 26 to decide who reaches the European Championships.

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Ange Postecoglou does not believe Tottenham’s transfer plans will be affected by whether they qualify for the Champions League next season or not

Even if the Uruguayan’s adopted country do make it all the way, he is still uncertain whether he would be in the dugout were Greece to make it all the way and enter Group F alongside Portugal, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

“There’s nothing to hide with my situation,” he said. “My contract finishes on March 31, it’s a strange situation – not for me, as a player I finished my contract and it was more difficult because I needed to play, I still was not scared and played until the last minute every time.

“It’s easier as a coach, there’s not the same risk, but it creates uncertainty, especially with my staff. They would like to know what is going to happen next month. It’s not new for me, maybe I was expecting something earlier but I’ve dealt with the situation in a normal way and then we will decide in April.

“It’s tricky for the players, we’ve had a very good relationship. When things work well, the players feel they are in a good place, we spend time together, we win together, celebrate and we are in contact a lot because I’m not spending time training on a day-to-day basis.

“There is a relationship outside football – the worst part for them would be that if we qualified and I was not there at the Euros. People say it’s not possible, but why not? It’s football.

“I’m trying to park it all, that’s what I will say to the players when we get together too. We have to concentrate on the games, then we’ll see after.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League

Should Poyet remain in charge beyond the summer, he will get the opportunity to manage in England for the first time since he left Sunderland in March 2015 – when Greece head to Wembley in the 2024/25 Nations League in October.

The 56-year-old spent seven years on English shores as a player and then manager, and raised a wry smile when the draw for the latest iteration of the tournament was made in February.

He said: “I was sitting there in Paris, and as soon as I saw the draw coming I knew it would be us. It was written, in the stars. It could be a totally incredible game, a great experience for everyone in Greece.

“Obviously, it will be very different playing against an English team which could be European champion by then. It’s nice, we need to prepare for that game in a special way because England are better than us right now – and it will be a very difficult game for Greece, with me or without me.

“But let’s get through the play-off first, the Euros too I hope, and then we can start thinking about Wembley.”

In the more immediate term, one issue facing both Poyet and Greece is the situation surrounding the country’s No 1, Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Odysseas Vlachodimos
Image: Odysseas Vlachodimos helped Benfica to last season’s Champions League quarter-finals – but has struggled to make an impression since moving to Nottm Forest

The 29-year-old has been the first-choice goalkeeper for Greece throughout Poyet’s tenure.

But having helped Benfica to the Premiera Liga title last season and kept the most clean sheets in the Portuguese top flight, since an ill-fated move to Nottingham Forest last summer he has made only five Premier League appearances.

Since the January arrival of Mats Selz, he has not featured in a single league squad for Nuno Espirito Santo, and has not played a single minute of football since Forest’s FA Cup replay win over Blackpool on January 17.

“It’s a good reminder for everyone, for the press, for sporting directors, owners, that football changes very, very quickly,” said Poyet. “[Vlachodimos] was No 1 at a top, top club not only in Portugal but in Europe. He was playing in massive games, winning titles, playing in the Champions League every year.

“Then you change clubs, and things happen. Other people, other coaches, other ways of understanding football and you find yourself in a difficult situation. That’s why the national team is totally different. As an example, I need to make decisions to play the one I know, the one I trust the most, who’s in a better shape or performing better.

“There are different ways, but I’ve got mine – and the results will tell if it was the right decision. I’m quite comfortable with these decisions. I know the players, what they can give me, and I will trust them on the pitch.”

Sky News
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