English criticism of Tottenham's Harry Kane, Dele Alli 'strange' - Pochettino

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has described English football's tendency to criticise their leading players as "strange" and called on the country to put club loyalties aside and back Harry Kane, Dele Alli et al. at the World Cup.

The Tottenham manager warned that the current negativity around Kane, which includes a tweet mocking the striker from a Football Association (FA) account, could affect the England talisman's form in Russia this summer.

The FA have written to both Spurs and Manchester United to apologise after a tweet, since deleted, mocking Kane's subdued performance was posted just minutes after the team's 2-1 defeat to United in last Saturday's FA Cup semifinal.

Alli, who is perceived by some as a cheat, has been booed at nearly every away ground this season, while Kane has also faced derision for claiming Spurs' second goal against Stoke from teammate Christian Eriksen, even facing questions from former England captains and current teammates.

Pochettino said: "[The criticism] is a little bit strange from my point of view. Both Harry and Dele are massive talents and they are going to defend the England national team shirt.

"But I think the people love Harry Kane and Dele Alli. It is in fashion sometimes to boo or criticise [players] like this but I think people love them but it is true sometimes we magnify the situation and we create an issue when really there is not an issue.

"But yes, sometimes [the criticism] is difficult to understand. Like it was so difficult to understand this tweet from the FA after the game of course."

As well as Kane and Alli, England and Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has faced intense scrutiny from English media, which has frequently been accused of unfair criticism of the country's internationals.

Spurs manager Pochettino continued: "For me, the most important thing here in England is try to back English players. It is so important for English football to back them. Kane is going to compete in international games at the World Cup and everyone wants to support the national team.

"If Harry Kane scores he is an English player not a Tottenham player or United or Chelsea, something like that.

"The most important thing is to back them. I don't think people need to show more respect -- it is only to show a little bit more love to them because, sure, this type of situation, like the one that happened after the game [against Man United], doesn't help to create a good atmosphere.

"And I'm sure that Harry is not happy and no-one is helping him to have an unbelievable World Cup. When we talk about passion, when we talk about to feel you are proud to defend your country and everything we need to be careful in the way we send messages or the way we write or give our opinion."