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Only Champions League will do for ambitious Saints boss
Mauricio Pochettino is hoping Saints can bypass the Europa League and qualify for the Champions League.
The Saints boss refused to put any specific timescale on achieving the top four finish that will be required, but didn’t rule out it being this season.
Saints start this weekend, which sees them host Swansea at St Mary’s tomorrow afternoon, in sixth place, above where opposition manager Michael Laudrup thinks is a realistic finishing place for either side this season.
However, Pochettino is not afraid to voice his ambitions for the club.
He said: “To be honest I’m not really keen on the Europa League. We’re all more attracted to the Champions League.
“It’s not a competition I look forward to because it means you haven’t been good enough to make the Champions League.
“I think all managers are looking to go that one stage higher to get to the Champions League so it’s not a competition that attracts me.”
Pochettino added: “I don’t know about a certain time frame (for Champions League qualification) and I have to be clear about the Europa League.
“It’s not a competition that attracts me or I want to participate in but at the same time I want the club to do well and be as high as possible in the tale.
“To do that we need to work well and we cannot set ourselves any limits.
“We need to be ambitious.
“We need to keep on being ambitions.
“We don’t know if it will happen in one year, three years or five years.
“All we can do, and all we have to focus on, is working as hard as we can to make that happen and also work with ambition to make that happen.
“If we are ambitious, one day we will achieve it.
“If we are conformist we will always be a midsized, mid table team. We will never actually achieve, or try to achieve, certain higher goals.
“We need to keep on working and be ambitious.”
Artur Boruc was the first Saints player to speak out about his Champions League ambitions for the club and Pochettino praised his keeper for doing so.
“I like it when my players have ambition,” he nodded.
“That way of thinking makes them have to work even harder to achieve those things.
“It also requires you to be very focussed every game and in every single training session.
“That is also very good because if you want big results, be ambitious and go for titles, that forces you to self-demanding with your team.
“To be clear about the Europa League it’s a competition I have never felt keen on, not my cup of tea, but the Champions League is different.”
Pochettino is regularly being asked about the secret of Saints’ success this season but insists it’s the work of Nicola Cortese that has driven it forward long before he arrived.
“The secret of Southampton’s success is the work that’s been happening for the last four years,” he said.
“It started with the chairman and how he started and what his vision for the club was, how he started building his vision for the future of the club, the philosophy of the people who were and are part of the club.
“It’s a basic idea to take the club to the top of the league, of Europe. That’s our ambition.
“The secret of the club is the ideas, the structure and the work that goes on beyond the scenes to make that happen.”
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