Football
Dan Kilpatrick, Tottenham Correspondent 4y

Mauricio Pochettino plays down fears over visible 'Tunnel Club' at Spurs

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino insists it is sometimes impossible to avoid the type of heated fracas that followed Manchester City's win at Old Trafford, but the Tottenham manager laughed off concerns about plans to make the players' tunnel visible.

ESPN FC sources said players and staff from Manchester United and City clashed in the aftermath of City's 2-1 win on Sunday, leaving City coach Mikel Arteta with a cut face. Both City and Spurs will open a "Tunnel Club" from next season, offering corporate match-goers the chance to see into the players' tunnel via a two-way mirror.

The postmatch fracas at Old Trafford has raised questions about the plans and Pochettino admitted that it can be difficult to stay calm behind the scenes and away from the cameras.

"The tunnel is [protected] with the glass! Big glass. Like the bank glass, it's very safe!" said Pochettino of "Tunnel Club," which will cost around £9,000-a-year at the club's new 61,500-seater stadium.

"But now, yes, both City and Tottenham, maybe need to paint it black! Or have half-time curtains. Before the game, open, half-time [closed]... Or if not you must pay double if you want to open them!

"You can talk when you're calm and avoid everything, but when something happens on the pitch and you are under stress and it's emotional, sometimes you cannot stop [yourself] and sometimes it can happen. It's difficult to be calm and relaxed in that situation.

"When I was a player -- or it has happened as a manager, too -- sometimes you would say, 'In the tunnel we will talk'. And you stay calm during the moment on the pitch but in the tunnel, no! With the referee and everyone! Because no-one can see you."

Pochettino recalled being involved in a "massive fight" in the tunnel at half-time of a Paris Saint-Germain match at Ajaccio in Ligue 1, describing the warring players as like "animals fighting."

But nothing could compare to PSG's trips to rivals Olympique Marseille, when Pochettino and his visiting teammates owed their safety to security police provided by former French president Nicolas Sarzoky.

"We [PSG] always travelled with massive security in France. Every time we played the derby against Olympique [Marseille] was amazing. I remember Sarkozy was, before being president, the interior minister, and a big fan of Paris Saint-Germain. He provided us the secret police because the situation was unbelievable.

"I remember one day there was a few people close to the coach who start to shout and some stones were thrown, and we were watching a few people from behind [the barriers] and, whoa, they started to fly," said Pochettino, gesturing a security guard throwing someone over the barrier.

"Unbelievable! We didn't know that the secret police were around us to protect us!"

City's win at United extended the gap at the top of the table to 11 points, while they lead Pochettino's Tottenham -- runners-up last season -- by 18 points ahead of their meeting at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Pochettino, who is preparing for Brighton's visit on Wednesday first, says City's success will not force Tottenham to change their long-term plans and he suggested that the Premier League's other top-six clubs should feel worse about the gap than they do.

"We're not frustrated. We're not disappointed in our project," he said. "City is doing so well but our project is on time. This season City were very consistent in signing, signing, signing, invest, invest, invest and they are above us. But in the last two seasons we were always above them.

"We're not going to change because they improved a lot. We improved and we're consistent in this process. For us, it's so important to finish the new stadium, the facilities here [at the training ground]. In the end, everyone wants to win trophies in every competition.

"In the last two seasons, we're playing at half a White Hart Lane without a corner, we're building the training ground, the hotel [players' lodge] -- everything. Tottenham is not a finished product. The expectation this season was massive and when we started to play and show great quality in Champions League, we felt disappointed in the last few months because City is so good.

"But if we feel disappointed about that, think about how Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool feel today."

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