LONDON -- Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has hit back at critics who have written off his side after their failure to make a single summer signing
Tottenham and Saturday's Wembley opponents Fulham had starkly contrasting transfer windows, with the promoted club spending more than £100 million on 12 new players.
But Pochettino said fans and pundits had the luxury of being able to change their minds during the campaign, while he had to deal with the consequences of his decisions.
"Maybe one day I can say: 'It's going to be a big mistake [not to sign players], he is going to pay,'" he said. "But then the next day -- after two wins against Newcastle and, maybe, Fulham -- I say: 'Keeping the squad together is a massive advantage over a team that signed maybe 10 players.'
"I love it because you're not going to remember what you said or what the people said 10 months ago, or five months ago or two months ago. It's easy to give your opinion freely. I was in a position where I criticised when I finished my playing career.
"I'd say: 'He should do this, or the manager that, or this team should do that.' Because you don't take decisions, you talk. When you are in my position -- and many players that have become managers [are] -- then you say: 'Wow! I never believed it could be as difficult as this.'
"It's because of the consequences. When you take a decision the consequences can be positive or negative. The people that give their opinions? They say: 'Ah, I knew! I knew that was going to happen!'
"If we win then they'll say: 'Tottenham was clever to keep all the players together.' If we don't have success they will say: 'It's normal, they made a mistake. They didn't have a deep enough squad.' But that is football."
Meanwhile, Pochettino told his players there was no time for them to ease their way into the season, stressing the importance of keeping up with the early pacesetters.
Spurs have been slow out of the blocks in their last three campaigns, and were five points behind the leaders by the end of August last season.
"We were talking about that -- not taking too much time," he said. "All the players were here last week and we talked about that. We need to be focused from day one.
"Maybe it looks as though we have time, but the Premier League is so competitive and it's so important to be ready.
"The most important game is Saturday, then it's the next one, so we have to be ready to compete and not waste time, not think: 'OK, we can win or we can draw.' For me, that's the key thing."