(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli said on Monday that the players were partly to blame for the Premier League club sacking Mauricio Pochettino last week, even though they always gave “110%” on the pitch.
Pochettino was sacked six months after leading the club to the Champions League final after a poor start to the season left them 14th in the league, with Jose Mourinho taking over the next day.
“When it first happened, you just blame yourself when you’re sad and you don’t really look at the big picture,” Alli told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match against Olympiakos Piraeus.
“We had a great journey. You can’t help but feel a bit to blame because we were out there but when I look back I gave 110% and so did all the players.
“I think it’s so clear what Mauricio meant to the players. He helped me grow a lot. I came here as an 18-year-old and had my ups and downs here… We owe (Pochettino) a lot of thanks.”
With most of the squad away on international duty when Pochettino was sacked, the Argentine manager did not get to say farewell to the players and a number of them visited him at his house the day after.
“When I found out I was upset and I wanted to speak to him. I went to see him,” Alli added. “I’ve seen him more than my family over the past five years.
“After I heard the news I couldn’t wait to see him. I was very upset. It wasn’t so much a conversation about football more two friends having a chat.”
Spurs striker Harry Kane said the sacking came as a “shock” to the squad while midfielder Eric Dier said it was important for the players to meet with him.
“I’ve been to see him, I went around his house and caught up with him the next day,” Kane told reporters at the weekend. “I wanted to go and see him and we had a chat for a couple of hours, and it was nice to do that before the new manager came in.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)