Pochettino slams 'disrespectful' Guardiola for 'Harry Kane team' remark

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has accused Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola of being "disrespectful" over his description of Tottenham as "the Harry Kane team," dismissing the comment as sad and ungentlemanly.

Before the international break, Guardiola named "the Harry Kane team" alongside Chelsea and Manchester United as City's title rivals after the England international scored six goals in four Premier League games in September to fire Tottenham into third behind the Manchester clubs.

Pochettino, who was Espanyol coach when Guardiola was in charge of city rivals Barcelona, said he was not personally offended by the comment, but added that it was hard to understand given that he never described Guardiola's legendary Barca side as "the Lionel Messi team."

"It was funny when I heard him the other day because I know Pep very well. When it's exciting after an amazing victory against Chelsea, sometimes [he] can struggle to keep his position and be a gentleman," Pochettino said.

"That didn't affect me but the reality is it was very disrespectful for many people and it's difficult to understand because he was part of the big success at Barcelona with Messi at his best, and I never said it was 'the Messi team.' I always said it was Barcelona or Pep Guardiola."

Pochettino added: "I think everyone deserves to be recognised as part of the success of the team. But I think many people took those words as very disrespectful for the club, and for many players here I think it's a strange situation. Personally I didn't take it in a bad way. It wasn't disrespectful for myself. Only I express my feeling that, for a lot of people, it wasn't necessary to say that.

"But I think we need to move on. For me, Harry Kane is one of the best strikers -- it doesn't change anything. And it's important that our position is clear, to be calm and not be aggressive with our opponents. Our responsibility is massive. But I think it's important to respect every single opinion and I respect his opinion.

"I think everyone knows how Tottenham is, how Manchester City, how was Barcelona, how Argentina is. It's a collective sport. Everyone needs to do his job. Of course sometimes it's difficult, because in the media the temptation is to be focused on some players.

"You can remember always the history, when it was [Mario] Kempes in 1978, in 1986 it was the 'Maradona team,' the 'Dream Team' with Johan Cruyff. Or one of the best teams in the world -- the 'Messi team,' the period when he was fantastic. Of course Harry Kane is a very important part of the success today of Tottenham but still we don't win trophies. We need to win trophies to say it's a massive period for us.

"I think it's a sad comment because the players laugh about that. If you're a manager you must show more, no? To be above this type of comment. That is my opinion like I respect his opinion, but I think the players motivation is the same. It's sad and it's not right in football. Today we want to show respect, fair play and everything."

Asked if he had spoken to Guardiola, Pochettino said: "No, of course not. He hasn't called me yet. Maybe after the press conference he calls me. I'm sure I will reply.

"We have a very good relationship. I have a lot of friends -- Mikel Arteta, Lorenzo Buenaventura, Eduardo Mauri -- all his staff are very good friends of mine before they met him. Of course, it's a sad comment. It's not him. He's a great manager. One of the best managers in the world. Why that comment? It didn't help him, it's not a good thing for anyone."

Pochettino also said he hoped to be able to select long-term absentees Danny Rose and Erik Lamela "in the next few weeks" after the duo returned to group training on Wednesday, adding that Rose was now happier at the club following his dramatic outburst on the eve of the season.

The left-back was fined two weeks wages for an interview in which he criticised the club's transfer strategy and ambition, and said he was open to offers from elsewhere.

Pochettino said: "Now, let's move on about his situation and all that happened two months ago. It's important now for us and for him to try to be fit and be available to help the team.

"This morning we had a conversation. He's feeling well, he's starting again to feel happy about his situation, about sharing with the team more time than before. It's always important for us to talk, create a good atmosphere for everyone to be a part and feel happy here.

"He's on the way to becoming an important part of the team to help himself and help the team. We're happy with the situation, it's a completely different situation to the beginning of the season."