Mauricio Pochettino has said that winning the FA Cup would not turn his Tottenham team into winners, just as twice winning the Copa del Rey as a player did not change his own mentality.
Pochettino said Spurs could only develop a winning culture through success in the Premier League and Champions League, and not in a competition that is so dependent on luck.
“I am the same. They changed nothing for me. Nothing,” Pochettino said. “Sometimes success doesn’t help you to be better. Maybe we didn’t deserve to win it. I am in the history of Espanyol because we won but I don’t feel it made a massive change.
“OK, you can say it was a big issue because we won two trophies. I don’t mean that the team that wins the FA Cup or the Copa del Rey doesn’t deserve to win it but sometimes you win because the draw is kind to you. It is not the same as winning the Premier League.
“When you win a real tournament, when you need to play under pressure and perform at your best over 10 months, that is when you start to learn about winning — what it means to be winners, what it means to be professional.
“That is the step when you start to understand in your head. The culture of winning is so important but to create that culture, you need to work a lot and take many steps to arrive there. It is not: ‘Oh I am going to create a winning mentality and culture. OK in two months, we are going to start to win.’ It is not like this.”
Pochettino said Leicester’s historic Premier League title in 2015-16 was evidence that simply winning a trophy does not change a club, stressing that the “process” is more important than the end goal.
Leicester have twice changed managers since and they are on course for another mid-table finish.
“For me, the most important thing is the process,” the Spurs manager continued. “Take Leicester — all that they enjoyed was the process. It was a fantastic story, that Leicester won the Premier League. But the moment you lift the trophy and then put it down, that disappears. You will be in the history but you cannot live in the past.
“When you win something it is like you have finished an amazing job. But the process is the most beautiful thing, no? When you arrive, you arrive. But then you need to be ready for the next challenge. If not, all that happiness will transform into sadness.
“That is in society, not just football. You need to find different motivation and stimulus. I’m not saying that winning is not good, all that we are doing is to try to win!”
Back in 2000, Espanyol had to beat Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to win the Copa del Rey, although six years later in 2006, they avoided Spain’s biggest clubs, beating Getafe, Cadiz, Deportivo la Coruna and Zaragoza to win the trophy again.
“We were very lucky,” said Pochettino, whose team have beaten Wimbledon, Newport and Rochdale en route to the quarterfinals.
“When you are at Espanyol, you need the draw to help you and the draw makes you play a team that is maybe focusing on the Champions League. To win the Premier League is different because you need to be consistent during 10 months.
“And the Champions League is the Champions League, one of the best competitions in the world. In the Copa del Rey in Spain, you need some luck in the draw and the form of the players that you are going to face. I don’t know if who wins the titles like FA Cup or Capital Cup is the best team.
“The Premier League or La Liga or the Bundesliga or the Calcio [Serie A], not only you need luck — you need to deserve to win this type of title. And then the short competitions, like in the World Cup.
Argentina arrived in Japan [and Korea for the 2002 World Cup], I think we were first in the FIFA classifications but we didn’t arrive in the best form and went out in the group stage.
“You need luck. It’s like in Capital One, Copa del Rey, FA Cup. They are very short periods and sometimes it is a coincidence, maybe you have some players not in good form, you compete and you are out. It’s completely different. There are competitions that if you win, fantastic but if but if you don’t win, nothing changes.”