'Wake-up call' helped Vincent Janssen improvement - Mauricio Pochettino
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that Vincent Janssen's improvement came after he gave the struggling Tottenham striker a wake-up call.
Janssen scored his first goal from open play on his 30th appearance for Tottenham in their 6-0 win against Millwall last weekend. But before that Pochettino had said that 22-year-old had been looking much better in training, after publicly warning him to "do more".
Harry Kane's ankle injury, which will sideline the England striker for at least a month, is a "great chance" for Janssen, according to Pochettino, and the Tottenham manager said a meeting with the Dutchman in his office had been the turning point.
"It is true that we will miss him [Kane] as he is one of the best strikers in the world. But what can we do now? We can trust in the players that can replace him. We are fully confident in the squad and team and we hope that we will games and finish in a very good way," Pochettino told a news conference.
"We are happy with him," Pochettino said of Janssen. "It's true that in some periods of the season his form was down. He needed a wake-up to be reminded that the possibility of playing could arrive. He is very young, and he came from Holland. I'm happy with him and all the players but I understand that they are not happy with some situations.
"The wake-up call is more private, inside here [the club], than in public. But not only him, from the beginning of the season, all 25 players at some period needed a wake-up call in private. They have all been in my office!
"He is okay, he is motivated, confident, he is feeling a little bit of relief as his first goal from open play and that is important. I am happy in the way that he trained this week too."
Janssen is not the only back-up striker who has struggled for minutes and goals in the Premier League this season. Michy Batshuayi is yet to start a league game for Chelsea, while Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge, Arsenal forward Lucas Perez and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney have all started fewer than 10 each.
"It's easy to say we need better players on the bench behind Harry Kane, but it's complicated for offensive players who are behind Diego Costa, Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez or [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic at big teams," Pochettino explained.
"Players are training hard every day to try and find their best form, but every weekend they do not find to much possibility to play. Always we say they need to be professional, but they are only human and it is very tough to come in every day and it's very complicated. We are happy because the players we have are very professional and with the quality they provide."
Janssen's teammate Jan Vertonghen also expressed confidence that the striker would find his form in what he called the most difficult position on the pitch.
"I know him very well,'' Vertonghen said." I knew him in Holland and I've spoken to two players who played there with him every day and who play in the national team and they are confident of his abilities and so am I.
"He's very determined to make it here. The position as a striker is the hardest one in the Premier League. If you see how hard it is, it's difficult for strikers to fill in that role.
"If you look at some top, top strikers -- even they struggle to score goals here.''
Pochettino also said that his back-up goalkeeper Michel Vorm would keep his place for next month's FA Cup semifinal. Vorm has started all three FA Cup matches so far but Spurs have played lower league opposition at home and Pochettino was expected to recall captain Hugo Lloris for the match against Chelsea at Wembley, just as he did in the 2015 League Cup final against the Blues.
"Hugo has been playing in the Premier League and European competitions, and when you have a player like Michel Vorm, who is capable of playing at any club, he deserves to play in the semifinal -- why not? He is a very experienced goalkeeper, and the way he has been working since day one when he arrived here, and how much he has helped Hugo to be one of the best keepers in the world, he deserves the trust and the confidence to play at Wembley," Pochettino said.
"On the opening day of the season, when Hugo was injured against Everton, he came on and played very well. It is at moments like that when fans, and the people at the club, realise we have a very good keeper on the bench."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.