(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino defended his decision to leave Christian Eriksen out of his starting line-up for Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, with the future of the Danish playmaker still up in the air.
Eriksen, who has a year left on his contract and is reportedly on Real Madrid’s radar, came on after 62 minutes but could not prevent Tottenham from suffering their first defeat of the season.
Pochettino said he was unsure if the 27-year-old would play for Spurs again but did not think the decision to bench him on Sunday was the key factor in the defeat.
“When you lose, the players who don’t play are the best,” Pochettino told a news conference.
“With Christian we win and we lose a lot of games. If we won 3-0 … no one talks about different names.”
Eriksen, who joined Tottenham from Ajax Amsterdam in 2013, was an integral part of the side that finished runners-up to Liverpool in the Champions League and took fourth place in the Premier League last season.
While the transfer window has closed for the English top flight, the window remains open in other top European leagues such as Spain and Germany until Sept. 2.
“I can’t find excuses about the transfer window being open to justify that performance or the result,” Pochettino added.
“It’s not an easy situation. We know this can unsettle the group but we know in 10 days it’ll finish (when the transfer window closes) and things will be clear.”
Spurs next travel to London rivals Arsenal on Sunday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)