Poch hails battling Spurs

The Argentinian was given a hostile reception at St Mary’s after leaving the club to take over at Spurs last summer and saw his former club take the lead twice – with Graziano Pelle helping himself to a brace for Southampton.

But both sides remain in the hunt for Europa League qualification after equalisers from Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli earned the visitors a share of the spoils.

For Pochettino, who also revealed a shoulder injury suffered by Ben Davies was not as bad as first feared, the performance was matched by that of the travelling Tottenham supporters – who backed their coach throughout.

“Fantastic. Great fighting spirit,” Pochettino replied when asked about his side’s performance.

“We conceded the first and second goals and showed character. Congratulations to our players and our fans.

“They like me a lot. For me, it’s a first time (to) hear from them and I appreciate that so much, it was a very tough game, emotional game for me. I still love Southampton, I have very good memories here.

“Both teams tried to play. We conceded goals from two mistakes, I’m a little disappointed on this point. But in the end happy, we have a very young team today and they showed character.

“We will always love Southampton and nothing has changed. I understand the game, it is normal that they need to show support to their manager and club and now I am at Tottenham. I say thank you to them (Tottenham fans) because they showed support to me.”

The point means both sides will still fancy their chances of securing European qualification come the end of the season – even if Pochettino is not too keen on another Europa League campaign.

“It’s very hard to play Euorpa League,” he added.

“I always explained when I was at Southampton that I prefer to play Champions League. If you reach Europea League, it’s good for the club but it’s not the competition that you dream about. My dream is to play with Tottenham in the Champions League. For that we need to prepare in the summer and build a strong team.

“After my experience here I think that it is very tough to play in the Europa League. The Premier League is the most difficult league to play in in the world because it’s very competitive.

“When you play two more cups, I think it’s very tough for the player. If we reach the Europa League, we need to try to do better, to fight for the top four and try to win the Europa League, but that’s not my dream. “