(Reuters) – Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino apologised to Manchester United for his team’s robust tackling in a 2-1 pre-season defeat on Thursday, but said their Premier League rivals were not blameless in the feisty encounter in Shanghai.
United youth product Angel Gomes sealed victory in the 81st minute after Spurs’ Lucas Moura cancelled out Anthony Martial’s first-half opener but a number of tough tackles from both teams threatened to overshadow the pre-season contest.
Moussa Sissoko risked being dismissed for a challenge and subsequent stamp on Daniel James that left the United winger writhing in pain while Dele Alli and United’s Andreas Pereira were also guilty of poor tackles.
“I apologise to United on behalf of our players. I expect the same because there was some action in the second half that they made to us,” Pochettino told reporters.
“I was a bit annoyed about some situations … because you can arrive late and something can happen. Sometimes you need to be aggressive, play with passion but the focus is on building fitness and developing the way we want to play.”
Pochettino was concerned that his players would pick up injuries in a heated clash where United defender Eric Bailly hurt his knee when he tried to block Son Heung-min.
“Of course I was worried … Bailly got injured and I’m sorry for that … when players start to build their fitness and fight for their place, when something happens in pre season it’s always tough,” the Argentine added.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the prognosis for Bailly, who has been plagued by injuries in his time at Old Trafford, did not look encouraging.
“It seems that he’s twisted his knee so we have to do some scans and checks on him. At first sight, it doesn’t look great but let’s see how it goes,” the Norwegian told the club’s television channel MUTV.
However, Solskjaer said he had no problems with the tackles his players faced.
“It’s a competitive sport and we’re preparing for the league. There was no tippy-toe football … we didn’t just receive. We gave as well. I thought it was a good game.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)