Toby Alderweireld wary as Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham face ‘No-win’ situation
Toby Alderweireld knows Tottenham are in a no-win situation against non-League Marine..
Win and they were supposed to beat a club eight tiers below them in the football pyramid.
Lose and, well, Jose Mourinho’s men will be a laughing stock.
But even so, the Belgium international is relishing the trip to Merseyside for the chance to pit his wits against the team that lies sixth in the Northern Premier League North West Division One.
Alderweireld said: “You can’t really win the game. If you win, you’re expected to.
“So it’s pressure but it is good to have pressure — if you have no pressure, you are a little bit sloppy.
“Everyone expects us to win easily but it’s never that easy because, for most of those guys, it’s the game of their lives, so they’re going to do everything to make it as difficult as possible.
“It’s up to us to start well and give a good level of performance.
“If we put the same work rate in as them then, of course, quality will beat them.”
While Tottenham have arguably the most modern stadium in Europe, today they will play at the Marine Travel Arena — capacity 3,185.
Along one side of it is a row of houses whose gardens back on to the pitch.
Alderweireld added: “It was a long time ago that I last went into someone’s garden to get a football back.
“When I was younger, I played a lot of those games in Belgium and my brothers did as well.
“It’s different but that’s the beauty of football and it’s very nice to go back and realise how fortunate we are to play in big stadiums.
“The charm of the smaller leagues is unbelievable.
“When my older brother still played for an amateur club in Antwerp, I loved to go and watch him.
“It was a different environment and they are very passionate about it.
“It’s never that you go lower and they are not so passionate, they are sometimes even more passionate about it.”
In normal times, Marine’s players enjoy a pizza and a pint with their supporters post-match but this afternoon the bar will become Spurs’s changing room.
Alderweireld said: “Sometimes we’re outside in some sort of tent even in the Premier League, because they don’t allow us to go in the normal dressing room because of the distances and stuff.
“So if there is a moment to do it, it’s now, because we are used to different environments.”
The defender, who won Holland’s Eredivisie three times with Ajax and La Liga with Atletico Madrid, is yet to win a trophy with Tottenham.
But he added: “We have to grab every chance we can to get silverware and to get as far as possible.
“We don’t have to be crazy about ‘silverware, silverware, silverware’, because the steps the club has taken are a lot bigger than winning one cup.
“Don’t underestimate the stadium, the Champions League final, getting into the Champions League for almost every season in the last five years.
“That is a big step for this club.
“But now it would be unbelievable to get some silverware, of course.”
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