Jan Vertonghen admits that the Tottenham squad feel “responsible” for Mauricio Pochettino’s departure from the club, with their collective dip in standards forcing a change to be made in the dugout.
Spurs opted to part ways with an Argentine tactician after five-and-a-half productive years and they have since turned to Jose Mourinho for inspiration, with the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss overseeing three successive victories at the start of his reign.
The Portuguese is in the process of winning over a fanbase that he admits do not “love” him yet, with the memories of Pochettino still burning strong in north London.
Vertonghen is among those who enjoyed many happy times under Tottenham’s former coach, with the Belgian preparing to accept his share of the blame for a surprise dismissal.
He told reporters: “Our displays [under Pochettino] were not up to our standards.
“We’re all responsible. He put us on the pitch to win and we haven’t been doing that like we should, so everyone feels responsible.”
Vertonghen did not send a public message of thanks to Pochettino, either through the press or on social media, but claims to have passed on his regards, adding: “I sent him a [private] message. That was my message to him.”
Spurs took the decision to part with Pochettino after slumping to 14th in the Premier League table.
They are now back up to fifth, while also booking a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, but expectations are much higher than merely competing with the best in the business.
Vertonghen admits as much, with Tottenham still chasing down elusive silverware after cementing a standing among the European elite.
He said: “Sometimes you’re a victim of your own success.
“He [Pochettino] did so well and the expectations got bigger. That’s the world of football. It’s a business world, as well.
“I came here and played in the Europa League and he definitely brought this club to the next level. Not being in a top-four spot is now disappointing.”
Vertonghen joined Spurs from Ajax in 2012, with the 32-year-old closing in on 300 appearances for the club but also the end of his current contract.