West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini: If Tottenham want a scrap, bring it on
- Tottenham visit London rivals West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday
- Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini has invited Spurs to be as physical as they like
- ‘We bought players that I and the sporting director knew were able to do it’
Kieran Gill for the Daily Mail
Manuel Pellegrini has invited Tottenham to be as physical as they like in Saturday’s Premier League showdown at the London Stadium, promising his West Ham side will give as good as they get.
Spurs midfielder Eric Dier’s thunderous tackle on Sergio Ramos set the tone for England’s thrilling Nations League victory in Spain on Monday and his club manager Mauricio Pochettino has made no attempt to hide his admiration.
Yet Pellegrini insists his squad are prepared for a battle after he and director of football Mario Husillos made sure they signed players, such as centre backs Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop, who are capable of putting up a fight.
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has invited Spurs to be as physical as they like this weekend
‘We bought players that I and the sporting director knew were able to do it,’ Pellegrini said of the Premier League’s physical nature. ‘Here there are very strong strikers, here in England there are a lot of crosses inside the box.
‘The referee — and I’m not criticising them, it is OK for me — allows a fight a little bit more inside the box. So you must be strong and 100 per cent concentrated.
‘In other leagues maybe there are a lot of fouls inside the box that here in the Premier League do not exist. We have already played eight games. I think that players like Fabian don’t need so many games to be ready when they are good players.’
Pochettino applauded the value of a fearless attitude and a thunderous early tackle such as Dier’s for England.
England midfielder Eric Dier (right) went in hard on Sergio Ramos (centre) in Sevilla this week
‘The signal you send to your opponents is important,’ said Pochettino. ‘To say, ‘We are not scared of you. We come here and we want to beat you.’
‘To be brave like this — Eric Dier, a holding midfielder, pressing Sergio Ramos in the penalty area — that is the mentality we have tried to translate to players.’
Pochettino was criticised in Spain for admitting he was proud of the tackle that earned Dier a yellow card in Seville. But this was the instinctive reaction of a former centre half and a manager who has spent nearly six years in English football.
‘The tackle was nice, eh?’ said Pochettino. ‘He touched the ball, no? The tackle was good. He touched the ball and he was aggressive. In England, it’s never a foul.
‘In Europe it’s different but in England it’s never a foul.’
Pellegrini spoke to his players on the eve of West Ham’s London derby against Tottenham