Mauricio Pochettino addressed the media ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League welcoming of Liverpool.
Here are the key points from the briefing:
On team news…
“We are assessing Jos Hooiveld and Victor Wanyama’s fitness. We still have one more training session until the game tomorrow against Liverpool and after that we will be able to know for sure which players are fit for the game.”
On Luke Shaw…
“I think all the players that have been called up to the English national side fully deserve it. It’s clear that Roy Hodgson and his team are assessing every single potential English player that could go to the national side.
“It’s all fully deserved for every single player that’s been called-up, and credit to them as well for actually getting those call-ups.
“It’s clear that Luke Shaw is younger than the two players that you mention (Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole), and that youth transmits good energy to the team. That’s a very good, positive thing for the team.
“It’s a player that is well known, we all know of his quality and it’s clear that if Roy Hodgson has picked him it’s because he feels that he can do well with the English national side, and that he can also complement well Baines and Ashley Cole in that position. Overall, it’s a positive thing for him and for the English national side.
“I think we need to take it step by step. I think we are getting ahead of ourselves if we start thinking about summer plans. We need to enjoy this moment; Southampton as a football club, as a team, as a family of people.
“It is clear that Luke Shaw is enjoying his first call-up, as did Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert when they got their first call-up.
“Right now, these four players are enjoying this moment, we’re enjoying it for them as well, we’re very happy for them, and I think that overshadows any possible, potential moves in the summertime – that’s way beyond.
“I think he’s prepared mentally, I think he’s fully prepared mentally to face the situation. I think he’s a player that’s grown a lot in the year-and-a-bit that we’ve been here.
“He’s matured a lot, he’s grown a lot in that time, and I think it’s going to be a very positive experience for him.
“I think it’s going to help him grow as well in the future, this chance with the English national side, and it’s a great chance also that he’s going to be playing with the best that this country has to offer and he’s also going to be managed under a great manager such as Roy Hodgson, so overall it’s going to be a massive positive thing for him.”
“I think he’s a player that has great maturity, he has great intelligence. He has the full support of his family behind him, and he also has the full support of the Southampton family. If anything should happen and he comes back in a different way his family’s right behind him to make sure that there’s no consequences.
“We want to keep hold of our young players, such as Luke Shaw, and that’s our intention for the future.”
On passing down advice on international football…
“It’s clear that I played in the Argentina national side a long time ago, but it’s not just today that we speak with Luke Shaw.
“We speak with all players every day, especially about any potential situations that they might be facing, not just with the English national side. We try to pass on our experience.
“The technical staff tries to pass on their experience, especially to young players such as Luke Shaw.
“We try to pass on that experience every day, and it’s clear that Luke Shaw is experiencing a new experience – a new moment for him – and it’s also clear that there’s already three players at Southampton that have been with the English national side that can pass on their own experience, so that will make him feel like he’s already part of that set-up and it’s not anything new for him.”
On having four England call-ups and their World Cup hopes…
“Southampton have four players in the English national team, and that’s something of course that’s a massive boost for this club. It also enhances the prestige of this club, so it’s a very important thing.
“It’s clear that for any player it’s a massive boost to get called up to the English national side – to any national side – especially looking at the fact that there’s such a short time before the World Cup, which is really soon. It’s a great opportunity for them and it gives them a great chance to actually be on that plane to Brazil.
“I think with Jay, with Adam, and Rickie, they experience that same opportunity with the same intensity.
“Perhaps in a personal sense they experience it in a different way, which is a personal reaction, and they’ll keep that to themselves. But it’s clearly a great opportunity for the three of them. Now we have even the four of them with Luke Shaw also called up and I think overall it’s a massive chance for the four of them.
“It’s very motivating for Southampton as a football club. I think we have nearly 17 players that have been called up during the international break next week.
“Among the players in the under-17s, under-18s, under-19s, under-21s and the senior side as well, so I’m pretty sure that next week Southampton’s going to be away on holiday.
“We’re not going to be doing much next week. It just shows that Southampton has the capacity to create new players and especially for English young talented players that can go on to play in the different ranks of the English national side.”
On the players’ self-motivation making his life as manager easier…
“I don’t think it actually makes it any easier, because the job of a manager is always a tough one. It’s never easy, whether you have players going on international break or not.
“It’s clear that these players have an extra motivation now to be playing for their clubs, because some of them can actually be going to the World Cup and that’s a massive thing for them, and for Southampton as well. But it’s also clear that getting an England call-up has its positives and its negatives, in the sense that it demands more from you physically and mentally as well.
“That creates a certain stress, because you have to travel with the team, you have to travel away with the English national side, you have to be competing during the entire week.
“So that can create a stress on the player, and it’s down to the technical staff at Southampton to try to balance that stress out and to find an equilibrium between all the excitement of being called-up to the English national side and keeping your feet on the ground basically.
“That’s actually a very important topic for us, in the sense that when you see big clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, or Manchester City, they have players that are already used to playing with their national side, so you can almost see that those players that are used to playing with the international scene take it as almost like a resting period – a psychological and physical resting period.
“For players such as Luke Shaw that get called up for the first time it can demand a lot more energy from him physically and mentally. So it’s down to us, to the equilibrium of this club, to, over time, with experience, to try to get our players that are getting called up for the first time to have them more rested physically and mentally – to not see it as such a big demand physically and mentally.
“That’s the big difference for example with a player like Wayne Rooney and Jay Rodriguez, who has just been called up for the second time. Over time you find that equilibrium. It’s clear that players that have been called up many times for the English national side, or for any national side, are a lot more accustomed to that demand, whereas our players are only recent call-ups to the English national side, so they need to balance out that stress that’s involved with going to the national side.”
On a reaction to the recent West Ham defeat…
“We’re always balanced in the way that we react to our victories and our defeats. We always give 100 per cent in our work ethic, especially after a defeat such as that, in the training ground I mean, and the team is always very motivated to get back from a defeat like that and get back to winning ways.
“We were very disappointed and angry after the West Ham game, because we were one-nil up, we were doing quite well, we were controlling the game very well, and from a clear offside we conceded the 1-1 and that changed everything for us.
“It was very difficult for us to get back into the game after that. An unlucky and unfair refereeing decision, which was not given, I should say. In the second half we created many chances. We created many chances to actually go and win the game. That wasn’t to be and it just shows we need to keep on working to get positive results in the future.”
On Southampton’s season at present…
“I don’t think the season’s over. I disagree with that assessment. The motivation is always there to play well, to get the three points tomorrow, especially against a very tough team that’s actually a candidate to win the Premier League, a candidate that’s looking to get into the Champions League.
“We also have the motivation to recover the position that we lost last week against West Ham. We have that massive motivation inside of us to recover that position.
“I think football is passion, it demands motivation, it demands focus, and our focus is always the same. What I would say to the fans is, as I’m sure they will, come in full force tomorrow, with full voice, always support the team as they always do, and hopefully we can reward them with a victory against Liverpool.”
On Shaw versus Luis Suarez…
“Liverpool are playing currently a 4-3-3 system, and it could very well be the case that Suarez is playing on the right and, in that case, he would be facing Luke Shaw and we’ll see if Liverpool play in that manner, and we’ll see if he has the chance to actually defend against him.
“I think we’re talking about Southampton against Liverpool. We’re not talking about individual players, we’re talking about two teams playing against each other and I think overall if Luke Shaw has been called up to the English national side it’s because he can do well against any player.
“So, in that sense, we hope that all of our players are going to have a really good performance against a top side, a massive club in England, such as Liverpool.”
“We need to have possession against Liverpool. We need to try to keep possession against Liverpool and try to not let them create any chances whatsoever, or very few chances.
“It’s clear that we’re going to be facing one of the best strikers not just in England, but in the world. That’s my opinion.
“Suarez is possibly one of the best strikers in the world, but not only him, there’s other players that Liverpool have, such as [Philippe] Coutinho, [Raheem] Sterling, [Daniel] Sturridge, and other players within the Liverpool side that are very much quality players.
“It’s clear that we need to have a perfect game when we’re playing without the ball in order to not let them create any chances or to have a chance to win the game.
“It’s clear that he (Suarez) is one of the best, there’s no doubt about that. We need to see until the end of the season how the season progresses, and how every single individual player that’s up for that award is rewarded in the collective sense, whether the teams can actually win any silverware or not. But it’s clear that he’s one of the best in the Premier League.
“It’s clear that they’re one of the top four candidates to actually win the league, among Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City and it’s clear that the team that’s the most constant towards the end of the season and can get the most number of points of course will end up obviously winning the league. But it is clear that Liverpool are in the top four candidates to win the league.”
“We’re fully aware that we need to defend very well. We need to win possession from them. We need to be very focused to actually nullify any chances that they create.
“The way that we plan to do that is just by taking possession from them, by not letting them win possession. To play in their half, to pressure them constantly. We need to counter their attacking mindfulness with our own attacking intent, and that just means going all out and keeping possession against them.”