Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says a top-four finish in the Premier League is imperative for the club to compete with their big-spending rivals following a 2-1 victory over Stoke City on Saturday.
Spurs edged closer to securing a place in next season’s Champions League with a hard-fought win in the Potteries courtesy of two goals from Christian Eriksen.
Pochettino’s fourth-placed side are only behind third-placed Liverpool on goal difference, with a game in hand on the Merseyside club, and crucially have an 11-point cushion on Chelsea in fifth.
Tottenham do not have the same financial spending power of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United although they will have greater earning potential when they move into a new stadium next season.
Pochettino acknowledged that being able to host games in European football’s elite competition will be key to ensuring they keep pace with other clubs.
“I think for us it will be a massive achievement to finish for the third time in the top four and get the Champions League is a fantastic thing,” Pochettino said.
“I think it will help not only on the football side but on the business side. The new stadium will help the team.
“The club is developing the projects, not only the stadium but the training ground facilities. I think it’s a combination and today is a great balance between both sides. I think the club is an exciting project, not only football but facilities and the mark of Tottenham.”
Pochettino also urged his players not to simply accept the job is done and to push on and finish runners-up to Manchester City.
“First of all our target is top four,” said the Spurs boss. “It would be fantastic to be in there the third time in a row and consecutive years.
“To have the possibility to play Champions League in the new stadium I think would be a great achievement. Then we will see.
“If we are able to take that opportunity after finishing in the top four then of course to finish second or third is better than fourth.”
Eriksen put Spurs ahead when he got on the end of Dele Alli’s cross seven minutes into the second half, although Mame Biram Diouf equalised after a mistake by keeper Hugo Lloris.
The Spurs goalkeeper’s clearance rebounded off the Stoke striker and dropped kindly for Diouf to roll the ball into the vacant net.
Kane claims goal
Eriksen fired in Tottenham’s winner from a free-kick although the goal was initially credited to striker Harry Kane, who claimed he got the faintest of touches as he attempted a header.
“It was my goal,” Kane said. “It flicked off my shoulder and went in.”
Kane later tweeted: “Definitely claiming that goal, flicked off my shoulder on the way in. Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer will clear that one up on Match Of The Day.”
And Eriksen added: “He celebrated like it was his goal so I will have to take his word for it.”
Pochettino was less concerned about the identity of the scorer.
“I didn’t have time to see on TV but Harry said it touched his shoulder,” said the Argentine. “The most important thing is three points to us. If it’s scored by Harry, or Christian I am happy.”
Stoke are in the relegation zone and four points from safety but manager Paul Lambert could not fault the effort of his players.
“We were excellent throughout the game up against a really good side,” he said.
“I couldn’t ask for any more from the way we played. Performance-wise, we don’t look like a team in the bottom two that’s for sure.”