– ‘Next level’ –
And Pochettino has always insisted that success in the Premier League and the Champions League is a better gauge of how well his side is progressing.
“If we are capable to win the Premier League and the Champions League it is a moment you say the team has improved and reached the next level,” said the Argentine.
“Until that, win the FA Cup or the League Cup, it will be fantastic for our fans but is not going to move the club to a different level.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 19, 2018
Pochettino is sticking to his guns despite evidence that success in domestic cup competitions has been the stepping stone to greater things for other clubs.
United’s FA Cup victory in 1990 laid the foundation for two decades of sustained success under Alex Ferguson while City’s FA Cup win in 2011 ended a 35-year trophy drought and paved the way for the Premier League title the following year.
Spurs go into the match with a comfortable lead over fifth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League, with the dethroned champions likely to miss out on Champions League football next year.
Antonio Conte, widely expected to be in his final few weeks as Chelsea boss, has a more straightforward-looking task on Sunday against relegation-threatened Southampton, who Chelsea came from 2-0 down to beat 3-2 at St. Mary’s last weekend.
The Italian boss is keen to fill in a surprising gap in his CV — despite repeated league success in Italy and England, he has never won a cup.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 20, 2018
Conte has been coy when questioned about his future throughout a troubled season, but he urged his players to play for the fans regardless of his own position at the club.
“I was a player, and the players must play every game, and not for me, but for the club, and for the fans,” Conte said.
“They must have great respect for this badge, they don’t have to play for the coach.”
FA Cup semi-finals
Manchester United v Tottenham (1615 GMT)
Chelsea v Southampton (1400 GMT)