Pochettino: My staff transformed the physique of this once fragile Tottenham player
By Harry Sykes
Mousa Dembele has been transformed into a Tottenham mainstay by the conditioning programme specially created for him.
Mauricio Pochetino has explained how the once-fragile Belgium international was developed into a midfield monster able to play two times a week.
Dembele, 29, joined Spurs for £15million from Fulham in the summer of 2012 but suffered a series of niggling injuries in his first three seasons, including Pochettino’s first as manager in which the player’s availability was intermittent.
But the Belgian, who the manager has lauded as one of the five outstanding talents he has played with or coached in his football career, has been able to take to the pitch more regularly in the last two seasons.
Dembele has been integral to Spurs’ run of five consecutive wins that has kept their title hopes alive, including an outstanding display in Wednesday’s memorable 3-1 triumph at Swansea.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
Pochettino is convinced that the conditioning programme that the club’s assistant manager Jesus Perez put in place has been key to the consistency of the central midfielder.
“Mousa is completely different to two and a half years ago, when we arrived here,” Pochettino said, as quoted by the Guardian. “He didn’t play too much in his first season because he always had physical problems. I must give all credit to the sports science and medical staff for creating a Mousa that is strong and can play.”
Spurs remain seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea and there are fears the team could implode in the final month of the season, as they did 12 months ago with two draws and two losses in the final four matches.
“That wasn’t a physical problem,” Pochettino said to the Guardian. “It was a mental problem.
“We thought too much about the summer, the Euros and everything else, and we lost a little bit of focus. The challenge now is to keep fighting until the end.
“The difference you can make is in the head. If you are not ready in your mind to compete, then it’s impossible.”
In other Tottenham news, the London giants have won the race to sign a 32-goal striker who has taken the league by storm.