Soccer

Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino praises Sheffield United spirit and Chris Wilder

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has said Sheffield United play with a spirit “like a rugby team” and praised the job Chris Wilder is doing at the club.

United are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games ahead of facing Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, with the promoted club three points ahead in the league table.

Pochettino admitted the Blades’ “humility” has impressed him and predicted a tough examination as he targets a first home league victory since late September.

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“What has impressed me the most is the belief and the togetherness,” Pochettino said.

“They have the spirit like a rugby team that fight for each other. That is fantastic to see in a football team.

“Of course they have a good squad, good organisation, a great manager and great coaching staff.

“What they translate on the pitch is the togetherness. They are humble enough to fight for each other.

“They have good players but [their spirit] is the key of Sheffield United. That is why they are doing so well.”

Pochettino’s managerial counterpart Wilder has received acclaim for the way his hometown club have adapted to the demands of the Premier League and the Argentinian is effusive in his praise for the 52-year-old Englishman.

“Everyone is seeing how he is working and [doing a] fantastic job,” he said.

“I think the best prize for me is how I described before the team.”

Tottenham achieved a morale-boosting 4-0 win against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League in midweek, during which Heung-Min Son scored twice.

The South Korea forward has apologised for his involvement in Andre Gomes’ serious ankle injury and Pochettino is pleased to hear the Everton midfielder is expected to make a full recover after undergoing surgery.

“The decision [to send off Son] created more confusion,” Pochettino said.

“He felt responsible after we conceded with 10 men. But he was good [psychologically} after we watched the action. He wasn’t guilty. He is in a very good mental level and it is not a problem.

“Of course he is sorry about Andre but now there is big relief because the message on social media from Andre is positive.”

Summer signing Ryan Sessegnon made his Champions League debut for Spurs in Serbia as a second-half substitute and Pochettino believes the youngster is closing in on full fitness.

Despite wishing the former Fulham star had more time on the training ground during the international break, Pochettino understands why the 19-year-old has been included in England’s England U21 squad.

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