LONDON - Mauricio Pochettino has warned this will be his "toughest year" as Tottenham manager as uncertainty grows over the club’s move-in date to their new stadium.
The manager was unable to add any signings in the transfer window and the club’s Premier League campaign is being undermined after it was announced that the opening of the new £850million White Hart Lane has been delayed.
This means Tottenham must now play home games against Liverpool and Cardiff at Wembley but a clash with an NFL fixture on October 28 means their match against Manchester City now hangs in the balance.
It remains unclear whether the new stadium will be ready and as such, Spurs must find different solutions as to where to play the game. Possibilities include a postponement or change of date but matters are complicated by Champions League and EFL Cup fixtures either side of the game. Both the Premier League and Greater Manchester Police are not keen for the match to be reversed and played at the Etihad Stadium.
Pochettino apologised to supporters and said: "I think we all feel disappointed by the announcement. I feel sorry for myself, the club, the chairman, the fans and the players. The chairman has been trying with the board to arrive at the right time. To not deliver it in time for the Liverpool game is a massive disappointment. I hope they finish the work and we can start to play in our new home.
"We need to be together, the fans should see a huge project that will be with them for ever. I understand the problems about tickets and the money. I want to say thank you to the fans, I apologise and I want to reward them by winning."
Pochettino, who saw the stadium outlay affect his ambitions in the transfer market, insists he remains committed for the long haul after signing a five-year deal. The Argentine said: "I love the challenge. For me it will be the toughest season and I think if we want success we have to give a lot.
"We know from inside that it will be hard but because we are warriors, we want to fight. We want to be proud at the end, we want success and we do not want to complain or make excuses. I am a winner, so that is why I feel full of energy."
Asked why he stood by the club when interest came from Real Madrid and Chelsea earlier this year, Pochettino said: "I am very grateful to the club, to the fans and to Daniel Levy. When you are in a difficult situation, this is the moment when you need to show that you are there.
"It is easy when everything is good to be there, but when the winter is coming it’s easy to run away. I want to be there in the front line fighting. I feel the responsibility to do that and that is why I am here. I am here also because I am happy. Tottenham gave us a lot of things when we arrived here four years ago. We will always be grateful."