Mauricio Pochettino said his Tottenham Hotspur players must take a hard look in the mirror rather than blame unfamiliar Wembley Stadium surroundings for a second “embarrassing” home Champions League defeat on Wednesday.
A 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen means Tottenham have been beaten in both Group E games at their cavernous adopted home and their hopes of reaching the last 16 hang by a thread.
Kevin Kampl’s second-half goal punished Tottenham for a shoddy display bereft of spark and took the north London’s club losing streak at the national stadium to six matches stretching back to a League Cup victory over Chelsea in 2008.
Pochettino, however, said there was no point regretting the club’s decision to shift Champions League home games to Wembley from their White Hart Lane ground which has a reduced capacity because of building work.
“Tell me a place that’s better to play than here?,” Pochettino, whose side lost 2-1 to Monaco in their opening group game, told reporters. “It’s impossible to find another ground better than Wembley.
“We don’t have the freedom to play and show real quality. After two games at Wembley, both have been poor. It is not an excuse, it is the truth.
“The problem is here inside us. The problem is not Wembley. We had 85,000 people here supporting us and it’s shame. It’s embarrassing for me. We need to show more.
“We were the problem tonight not Wembley.”
Tottenham, who slipped to third behind Leverkusen in Group E, have now gone six matches without a win in all competitions since a superb victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Their displays during a spate of league draws have been reasonable, if lacking penetration in the absence of injured striker Harry Kane, but Wednesday’s performance was well below the standards the manager expects.
“We have to be critical and look in the mirror and say we have to improve,” Pochettino, whose side face an in-form Arsenal on Sunday, said. “We have to find the answer inside of us.
“The first game against Monaco you could say it was an accident because everything was new but this second one something wrong happened.”
Wednesday’s attendance of 85,512 was a new record for a British club in the Champions League and Tottenham’s final group fixture against CSKA Moscow is already sold out.
Failure to beat Monaco away in their next game, though, would render that clash irrelevant.
“We need to improve and change some things. We are in a bad moment. After (beating) Manchester City (at the start of October) we don’t win and we need to be critical and find answers,” Pochettino said.