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Victor-Wanyama.jpg

Tottenham star Wanyama warned he could face hot reception on Southampton return

Date Posted,December 26, 2016

Victor Wanyama has been warned to brace himself for a rough ride on his first return to Southampton since leaving for Spurs in the summer.

The Kenyan midfielder, 25, has been a key member of the north Londoners title bid since his £11million defection from the south coast in August.

But Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino knows all about bearing the brunt of the Saints fans’ anger after the reception he received on his first return in April 2015.

The Argentine quit for the Spurs the previous summer and was angrily barracked with foul-mouthed abuse as Southampton fans made their feelings clear.

The Kenyan quit Southampton for Spurs in the summer (Photo: Twitter)

Supporters also set up a special ‘Orange Day’ to show their backing for then-boss Ronald Koeman instead.

Pochettino, who rubbed salt in the wound by tempting away Toby Alderweireld at the end of his loan spell last year, is expecting a tough night at St Mary’s.

Asked whether Wanyama would be strong enough to handle it, the Spurs boss said: “We will see.

“For me it was difficult. I remember my first game back there, they prepared the Orange Day to try to upset me.

Southampton's Victor Wanyama celebrates scoring their third goal
Wanyama celebrates scoring a goal for the Saints (Photo: Reuters)

“But in the same way they showed their love for me because if they didn’t then it would have meant they never cared for me. But if they wanted to show the love for another manager then it was [clearly] hard for them.

“You have to respect the supporters. They were not happy that first I moved to Spurs and then took Toby and now Victor.

“But we need to show full respect to the club and to our former fans. When the people love you and you take a decision that is not for them, it’s normal that they are a little bit upset.

“I feel the love from the people but it’s normal for some of the fans to hate me.

Saints fans wear Ronald Koeman masks behind Mauricio Pochettino
Saints fans wear Ronald Koeman masks behind Mauricio Pochettino on his St Mary’s return (Photo: Rex Features)

“That doesn’t change my respect for Southampton, the club and the people we worked together with for a year and a half.

“For different situations, we had to split our way. But always my feelings or my memories will be good.”

Fifth-placed Spurs go to Southampton hunting the four points that will lift them back to within a point of the top four.

But the Saints have lost just once in their last six League games, winning three and drawing the other two. They have also lost just once at home this season in the league, to Chelsea on October 30.

Victor Wanyama of Tottenham during the Tottenham Hotspur training session at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on December 16, 2016 in Enfield, England.
Wanyama will be hoping Tottenham can maintain their top-four push (Photo: Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

In addition, Claude Puel’s side have not conceded in four of their last six in the league, including three successive clean sheets at home.

But Pochettino remains focused on proving that it is not beyond Spurs to reel in relentless Chelsea and challenge for the title.

He went on: “Last season the table was the same – seven eight points behind Leicester. But I think it’s realistic to continue to dream.

“The gap is 13 points but there are a lot of games to play. We can fight for the title at the end of the season.

“It’s up to us to fight and be ambitious and try to be our best. 17 games more than half the season ahead, anything is possible in football.”

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