The Tottenham manager, Mauricio Pochettino, has said his side were at their best when they were playing every few days and suffered a dip that left them feeling “disconnected” when they had a week-long break.
Pochettino said: “Before the Burnley game, we were playing every two or three days and then it was a week when we didn’t play and it was like we disconnected. Everyone believed we needed to breathe and rest but I think it [the week-long break] affected us a lot in our brain – something that we disconnect.
“It is not about the energy, the legs, it is about the mental connection in the team and maybe we were affected by that disconnection. Now it makes it more difficult to connect again and perform in the way we want to perform. That is our job, that is in our capacity to try and reconnect.”
The Spurs manager, whose side face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, hopes that the impending move into the new stadium will help his players to avoid a similar feeling of detachment in the battle to finish in the top four.
“The motivation is massive because we have unbelievable games ahead. We are going to move into the best stadium in the world and everyone deserves for us to be in our best and compete and win.”
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City could walk off the pitch if his team suffer racial abuse, the manager stating football can be a “strong weapon” against racism. The manager’s stance comes after Raheem Sterling was one of several England players who was abused by Montenegro fans in last week’s 5-1 win in Podgorica.
Sterling, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Rose were among those who had monkey chants directed at them, the behaviour later being condemned by England. Asked if City could leave a match if they experienced the same, Guardiola said: “You could do that, we have football as a strong weapon to defend the principles of humanity. People said you cannot mix politics and football. The club and the players can do it and we would follow.
“We’d do it. I’m not alone at the club, it would have to involved the chairman and CEO and the captain and why not? The situation changes when you do something, if not it’s impossible. I think in Europe, not in football, it’s getting worse, yes of course it’s a concern.”
The Catalan believes the issue is not the sport’s problem. “It’s not about the football, it’s society, [it’s] what happens in Europe, the extreme right side [politically], to win the elections, we are not safe. It’s not football, it’s society itself,” he said.
Sterling registered England’s final goal and cupped his ear to Montenegro supporters to show he had answered them by scoring. “It was good for the national team and us [his] good performance, amount of goals, chances created, it was good,” Guardiola said. “Every day, we have to complain when it happens, you have to be there every day [complaining] and Raheem with his behaviour showed us the reality of our society.”
City travel to Fulham for Saturday’s game knowing a win takes them a point ahead of Liverpool in the title race with each having played 31 matches. Guardiola has every outfield player fit again, including Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho.
“Everyone came back fit [from the international break] – Fernandinho, Kevin, Vincent [Kompany], everybody is OK,” said Guardiola.