Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says first-half problems were his fault
Tottenham rallied late on to beat Aston Villa 3-1 in their opening game of the Premier League season
Last Updated: 11/08/19 7:37pm
Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham's problems in the first-half were his fault as the manager, while Dean Smith was pleased with the organisation from Aston Villa.
Spurs went behind inside nine minutes to a John McGinn goal, but a late rally saw them win 3-1 thanks to a debut goal from club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and a Harry Kane double.
Pochettino admitted that his side had struggled against newly-promoted Aston Villa in the first period, but said he changed the positioning of his side at the break to improve their performance.
He told Sky Sports: "I think we started well and we created a few chances but with their first long ball, we conceded and I think that started to change everything.
"We were a little bit confused, which is my fault because I am the manager, and I think we made a lot of mistakes. It didn't work in the first half. We started to make rushed decisions, to find different positions that didn't help us to have the capacity to move the ball quickly and find the space that we wanted to find and that was my fault.
"In the second half, we fixed these problems. Our positional game was completely different and it helped the team to move the ball better, to control the 45 minutes.
"In that moment, I was more relaxed and it was only a matter of time to score and create chances to win the game. It is very important for us to start the season with a victory."
Jan Vertonghen was a surprising omission from the starting XI, although Pochettino did not give much away as to why, stating that it was his decision as manager.
He added: "I think everyone needs to understand we have a decision with plenty of good players in the positions. We can only play with 11 in every game, we cannot play with 13 or 14.
"It is always the judgement of the manager and coaching staff and if we lose, then all the players I played were wrong and the decision was so bad. If we win, then we keep going but this is now my fifth season and everyone knows me. I'm going to play the players that deserve to play, or who I believe deserve to play or are the best to play.
"I don't think it's an issue and my decision today was to play with Toby [Alderweireld] and Davinson [Sanchez], and on the bench, players like Eric Dier or Serge Aurier can provide a good balance to the team.
"I hope that Jan, like other players who didn't play today, they need to work hard to wait and find the opportunity to play and when they do, show that I am wrong when they didn't play."
Kane: We can't fall behind too early
Tottenham striker Kane joined Jamie Redknapp after the game to take a look at his two goals and says Tottenham must keep pace with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
He said: "They've set the standard from the get-go. We kept with them last season but then fell away in the second half of the season - we can't fall too far behind early. We've got to keep up with them. We'll see what happens. It's the first game but it's always nice to win."
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Smith: A great learning curve
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith hailed his side's organisation up until the final five minutes, and believes positives can be taken from the late defeat.
He told Sky Sports: "We were really competitive in the first half and scored a good goal. We had a deep runner from John [McGinn] and it was a good goal but they reached the Champions League final for a reason so we knew it was going to be a tough baptism.
"You look at Tottenham's physicality and I thought that was the difference in the last 20 minutes of the game. We know about their quality but physically they're very strong and we kept giving it away. Ultimately it became a hard game for us in the second half.
"I've worked with a couple of the [new] players before so the integration has been quite seamless. We've learnt the standard now, and anybody who comes here is going to find it tough against the team Mauricio has got out there.
"It's a learning curve but there are positives to take from the result. Villa Park is going to be massive for us this season, and I feel we can be a different threat where our fans can be the 12th man."