Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has stoked the rivalry with Arsenal by rebuking opposite number Arsene Wenger for appearing to suggest Spurs get too much praise.
Pochettino said Wenger had “made a mistake” in making unflattering comments on the performances of other clubs, adding that he should only “talk for himself and for Arsenal”.
In remarks widely interpreted as referring to Tottenham and Liverpool, Wenger told media this week: “You celebrate some teams who have not been in a final for 25 years.”
“There’s no point to talk about another team,” said Pochettino, whose Spurs side finished above Arsenal in the Premier League last season and lead them this term.
“Praise? Of course we receive praise. Football is not only to win trophies. It’s the circumstances of different clubs.
“For me he [Wenger] is and will always be one of the best managers in the world, I respect him, but I think he needs to talk for himself and for Arsenal. Everyone sometimes makes a mistake and for me he made a mistake to talk about us or a different team.”
Wenger made the comments on Tuesday when arguing that his achievements in leading Arsenal to three FA Cups in the last four years had not garnered sufficient acclaim. On Wednesday they beat Chelsea to reach the Carabao Cup final, where they will meet Manchester City next month.
Tottenham’s most recent trophy came in 2008, when they won the League Cup, while they last won the FA Cup in 1991 and the league in 1961. But since Pochettino took charge in 2014 they have closed the gap on their north London neighbours in the top-flight and last year finished second while the Gunners were fifth.
Silverware has become a thorny topic for Spurs, however, who may struggle to retain their star players, such as England striker Harry Kane, and indeed Pochettino, who has been linked with Real Madrid, in the long term without tangible reward for their obvious improvement.
Pochettino, meanwhile, has told his players to treat Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round trip to League Two Newport County with all the gravity of a major European fixture – or risk entering the competition’s folklore as victims of a giant-killing.
“No complaints, no excuses,” he said. “Try to believe we’re going to play against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus in the Champions League. If we’re not ready to compete from the beginning, we’re going to struggle.”
Newport’s pitch, which they share with two rugby union teams, is expected to prove a leveller. The fourth-tier side’s manager Michael Flynn said: “I’m getting more confident as the week goes on.”