JAN VERTONGHEN admits Spurs stars feel responsible for Mauricio Pochettino getting the sack as manager.
Poch was axed a fortnight ago after five-and-a-half years in charge – and less than six months since guiding the North Londoners to the Champions League final.
It followed their poor start to the season that left them languishing in mid-table after just three wins from their opening 12 Prem fixtures.
Vertonghen admitted: “Our displays were not up to our standards. We’re all responsible.
“He put us on the pitch to win and we hadn’t been doing that like we should have, so everyone feels responsible.”
Pochettino will go down as the best Tottenham manager of the Premier League era after transforming the club and guiding them to fourth successive top-four finishes.
But Vertonghen, who spent his first three seasons at Spurs playing in the Europa League following his arrival from Ajax in 2012, said: “Sometimes you’re a victim of your own success. 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.”
It was noted by Spurs fans that Vertonghen was not among the players who paid tribute to Pochettino on social media.
But the Belgian shot down rumours of a rift as he explained: “I sent him a private message. That was my message to him.”
New Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho made it three wins out of three in all competitions with Saturday’s 3-2 victory at home to Bournemouth.
Spurs had led 3-0 before conceding two late goals – just as they did in Mourinho’s first game in charge at West Ham a week before.
The Special One takes his new club to his old one Manchester United tomorrow – 12 months after he was given the boot at Old Trafford.
Vertonghen said: “We have to be more professional in the way we kill off games.”
Mourinho’s perfect start means Spurs are now fifth in the table – six points below Chelsea in fourth and two points above United in ninth.
The trip to the Red Devils is being billed as Mourinho’s first real test at Tottenham.
But striker Son Heung-min said: “No, I think every single Premier League game is tough.
“You saw Man City today at Newcastle. Every single team in the Premier League is a big team. You never know what’s going to happen. You cannot promise any result.
“We have to get the three points at United. It will be a good test.
Every single game is a good test for us and I think it’s most important we go there, fight, another big team, another big competition so we just want to go there to get the three points.”
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