JAN VERTONGHEN says Tottneham Hotspur’s players must take responsibility for the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentine was dismissed after a dismal start to the season, which saw Spurs win just three of their first 12 Premier League games.
Despite the poor early season form, Pochettino’s departure still came as a surprise and Vertonghen says he and his fellow players must take their share of the blame for the Argentine’s departure.
He said:“Our displays [under Pochettino] were not up to our standards.
“We’re all responsible. He put us on the pitch to win and we haven’t been doing that like we should, so everyone feels responsible.”
Many of Spurs’ players have been public in their praise of Pochettino, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli both saying they visited the departed boss in the wake of his sacking.
Vertonghen, meanwhile, has, until now, kept his counsel on the matter and says he instead reached out to Pochettino in private.
The Belgian centre-back said: “I sent him a private message. That was my message to him.”
Having led Spurs to the Champions League final last season, Pochettino has cemented himself as a fan favourite with the club’s fans regardless of his sacking.
Vertonghen felt, the 47-year-old was in many ways made to pay for the high standards he himself set and believes he left the club in a far healthier position than it was in when he joined.
“Sometimes you’re a victim of your own success,” the 32-year-old said.
“He did so well and the expectations got bigger. That’s the world of football. It’s a business world, as well.
“I came here and played in the Europa League and he definitely brought this club to the next level. Not being in a top four spot is now disappointing.”
Spurs have improved drastically since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, who has guided the North London club to three straight wins since taking over from Pochettino.
Tottenham claimed a 3-2 win over Bournemouth on Saturday and sit fifth in the table, but the win could have been a great deal more comfortable after they eased into a 3-0 lead.
Vertonghen now wants to see Spurs add defensive solidity to the attacking flair which has seen them score 10 goals in three games under Mourinho so far.
He said: “We have to be professional in the way we kill the game.”
The first chance to show the professionalism Vertonghen is craving comes with a visit to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on Wednesday night.
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That match will see Mourinho return to United for the first time since he was sacked by the Red Devils last season.
Pochettino is also likely to have one eye on proceedings in Manchester after he was again linked with the United management job.
He is keen to return to work as soon as possible and United are said to be joined by Arsenal, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in being admirers of his talents.
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