Mauricio Pochettino says his Tottenham side will need to show greater consistency, energy and focus if they are ever to seriously challenge for the title following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Wolves.
Second-placed Spurs led 1-0 at half-time after Harry Kane’s 25-yard strike but conceded three times in the final 20 minutes.
“We know very well because of the experience that if you’re not 100 percent in every single game in the Premier League, it can happen,” said Pochettino.
“It’s not enough to play 60 or 70 minutes. You need to play 95 minutes at your best. Like today, we dropped a little bit in our energy and focus and in the last 20 minutes we conceded three goals. That can happen to us, it can happen to Wolves, to Liverpool, it can happen to Manchester City.
“That’s why it’s so tough to win the Premier League, because you need to be consistent, and today for us it’s a clear example that if we are not consistent enough, with not only good quality during the game, and the right energy, it’s difficult to compete for big things.”
This was Tottenham’s third game in the space of seven days and, asked whether fatigue had been a factor, Pochettino said: “Maybe, maybe yes.
“We conceded the first goal and in the last 20 minutes, it was tough for the team to find energy to be competitive or to try to win the game.
“Of course we started to feel it a few minutes before we conceded, which is why we were ready to add a fresh player like Oliver Skipp to help the team — and we couldn’t because we conceded in the action before we were going to make the change.
“I think the game was under control in the first half. Maybe it was easier than we expected in the first half to dominate the game and to play so easily. They played so deep, chasing us, and we didn’t concede one chance.
“But in the second half maybe we started to feel that the game was over, and when you start to feel the game is over and you play in the way that you play, you start to decide in a wrong way.
“We started to play too many long balls and then it was difficult to recover the ball and to play more with your heart than your head, and we started to expend a lot of energy. Then when you need the energy in the end, you miss that.”
Tottenham had won their two previous matches 6-2 and 5-0, against Everton and Bournemouth respectively, but were unable to complete a hat trick of high-scoring victories against Wolves.
“We dominated in possession and in good parts of the pitch but we missed the freshness to kill the game,” said Pochettino. “That’s the difference with the Everton and Bournemouth games — that we killed the games and then we managed them properly.
“Today at 1-0, when we conceded the first goal the team was down and they started to feel the tiredness, the fixtures, and everything was against them and it was difficult to find the energy to come back.”