Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino believes his team must be quick out of the blocks next season if they are to challenge champions Manchester City and the other top-six rivals for the Premier League title.
City beat Spurs 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday before West Bromwich Albion’s shock win at Manchester United confirmed Pep Guardiola’s side as champions the following day.
The defeat ended Spurs’ impressive 14-match unbeaten run in the league but it was a poor start to the campaign which saw their title bid go off the rails, slipping 21 points behind City following a 4-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in December.
“We feel very disappointed because (on Saturday) we lost to one of the best teams in Europe, and surely the best team in England,” Pochettino told a news conference on Monday.
“That’s part of our ambition, how we’re thinking now – we believe were capable of beating any team. That is good. But it’s not easy to be consistent through the whole season.
“The challenge for us in the next few years is to be consistent, try to start the season better. City started the season really well – we started with a lot of problems. We were very unstable in the way we started the season.”
Fourth-placed Spurs are competing with Liverpool and Manchester United for second place, and they can move a point behind Jose Mourinho’s side with a win at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.
Pochettino said defender Toby Alderweireld, who has not featured in the league since October after a hamstring injury, will return to the squad at the Amex Stadium.
“Toby will be in the squad,” the manager added. “But I will decide if he plays tomorrow.”