Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has warned his side may have to accept the height of their current capabilities is to be a top-four club.
Spurs, who were in the title race until a fortnight ago, are now battling just to hold on to their place in the Champions League qualification places after their winless run was extended to four games with a poor 2-1 defeat at Southampton.
Pochettino’s side were in complete control after a dominant first half which saw Harry Kane score his 200th career goal.
But an awful capitulation after the break saw Saints turn it around with goals from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse to leave Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea breathing down their necks in the race for the top four.
“The position that we are in is a very good position,” Pochettino said. “Of course (we are) disappointed, in the last few Premier League games, we didn’t win.
“But still we are in a position that everyone should sign for at the beginning of the season.
“It is difficult to predict the circumstances at the start of the season.
“In every moment, you could feel that there was a special atmosphere in this stadium.” ❤️
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 9, 2019
“To be in a very good position at the end of the season, maybe we need to understand that it is our limit to be there.
“If it is our limit, we need to take some decisions in the future.”
Pochettino accused his players of showing arrogance in the second half at St Mary’s and insisted they need more to get to the next level.
“I cannot come here and say, ‘everything is so good, we have fantastic staff and the manager, I am amazing’,” he said.
“To understand that if we want more and we want to keep our position in the top four and we want to fight on the quarter-finals, we need to give more in the future and increase our level.
“If not, we are going to struggle and I think we cannot compete only 45 minutes and then the other 45 minutes say, ‘OK, finished’.
“In the Premier League, the quality of Southampton, the quality of any team is going to punish you.”
Ward-Prowse sealed the win with a stunning free-kick, whipping the 25-yard set-piece over the wall and into the top corner.
The midfielder, who is tipped to win a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad next week, reckons their second-half showing is what Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are all about.
“It’s a big win,” he told the club’s official website.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 10, 2019
“I don’t think anyone expected us to get anything but with the belief that we showed and the character in the second half, that epitomises everything the manager has brought into the team and the club.
“That’s the Southampton we know.
“We put in a good solid performance against Fulham and at Manchester United we played well and should have come away with something more.
“Today that epitomises what we are as a team and a club.”