Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino benefited from a harsh reality check during his own playing career and has suggested some of his current squad are in need of similar treatment.
Although Spurs are undefeated after their opening four Premier League games, Pochettino was critical of his players following a 2-1 Champions League defeat to Monaco this week – pointing to a “lack of passion.”
The Argentinian has also been concerned by Tottenham’s recent habit of starting games slowly and hinted the time had come to dish out some tough love.
“I was a person that liked the reality, that the manager never lied to me,” said Pochettino, who earned 20 caps for his country and spent much of his playing days with Espanyol. “If I was s***, I was s***. But I needed to know sometimes. When you are young, you need to know the reality because when you are in your bubble, you believe that always all you do is right. And sometimes you need people who say ‘hey, come on, what happened with you?'”
Pochettino highlighted feedback he received from then-Espanyol coach Marcelo Bielsa, at a time when the former was being hailed as one of the best defenders in Spain.
After being asked to assess his own form, Pochettino said: “In my head I was a nine or a 10, but I decided to be very humble and say maybe a seven or eight.
“He [Bielsa] said to me ‘you were s***’ and my face was like this [shocked]. He said ‘because of this, this and this’ and showed me why, and said ‘if you perform like this then you cannot play for me and you cannot play for the national team’.
“It was tough for me. I drove to my house crying, but, after time, I recognised it was true. I was s***, yes I was s***.
“And then I improved, I played for Argentina in the World Cup and I got a big offer from Paris Saint-Germain to buy me. When I believed I was the star man, maybe from the news or the fans, this big offer never arrived.”
Tottenham face struggling Sunderland at White Hart Lane on Sunday, having won two and drawn two in the league this term.