LONDON — Danny Rose dismissed fresh suggestions of a row with Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino during Wednesday’s Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia, and insisted there has never been a problem between them.
Rose exchanged words with Pochettino and headed straight down the tunnel after being replaced with 20 minutes remaining of Spurs’ 3-0 win at Wembley.
The left-back had been left bloodied and booked after an altercation with Apoel’s Roland Sallai but he soon re-emerged with stitches above his left eye and took his place on the bench, with Pochettino saying afterwards it was “impossible” for him to play on.
Rumours of a rift between Rose and Pochettino have been rife since the 27-year-old gave an interview to a national newspaper on the eve of the season, criticising Tottenham’s wage structure and transfer policy, and inviting offers from other clubs.
Rose denied he had fallen out with Pochettino after being left out of the squad for the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal last month and he reiterated that they have never clashed.
“This is getting silly now,” Rose said at Wembley. “The manager said it was best I came off and I didn’t want to come off. That was it. I’ve seen already that people are saying we exchanged words. There is no issue between me and the manager.
“There has never been an issue. And people trying to put stuff in the media is not welcomed. For the last three-and-a-half to four years, the manager has been my biggest fan. He’s given me nothing but love and respect. There is no issue. There never will be an issue. People need to stop this because it’s not welcomed.”
Spurs were already guaranteed top spot the group and a place in the round-of-16 before Wednesday’s win, but they could still face European heavyweights Juventus and Bayern Munich, as well as Basel, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk or Porto, in the knockouts.
Rose says Spurs — who finished the group stage with more points than any other club and the most for an English side since Manchester United in 2007 — should fear no one after doing the double over Apoel and Borussia Dortmund and beating Real Madrid at Wembley.
“We are confident we can beat anybody and we’ve proved that throughout the group stage,” he said. “I wouldn’t like Bayern! But we don’t fear anybody. The manager would prefer us to have one of the top teams. He relishes those sorts of games. We’ve proved this season that we do turn up in these games in the group stage and we’ll be looking forward to the draw.
“It’s not easy to go to the Bernabeu and get a point, and maybe we should have won the game. It’s not easy to beat Real Madrid convincingly here. I hope teams look at those performances and realise Tottenham are a team to be feared. When we turn up, we can beat anybody on our night.”
Rose is expected to return to the bench when Spurs resume domestic duty with Stoke’s visit on Saturday, amid a run of just one league win in six games.
The England international believes slow starts are to blame for Spurs’ slump and he is in no doubt that Stoke will replicate the success of other lesser clubs at Wembley by trying to frustrate their hosts.
“I can tell you as of recently we’ve lost or drawn games [in the Premier League] — because we’ve not started the games in the right manner. When teams are coming here, especially like West Brom, they score early then they sit back and make it difficult for us to break them down,” he said.
“There are no excuses. We know that teams may do that when they come here and we’ve got more than enough quality in the starting XI on the pitch to be able to break teams down. So it’s no excuses from us and we fully expect that from teams when they come here. It will be no different at the weekend [against Stoke] and against Brighton next week.”
Rose is still working his way back to fitness after returning from a nine-month injury layoff in October but he is confident he will be fully up-to-speed in the New Year.
“If I got through the game today, that would have been nice. I’m playing a game a week at the minute so hopefully I will get there if I stay injury-free. Once I get through this Christmas period and into the New Year, I feel I’ll be 100 percent,” he said.
Midfielder Harry Winks, who looked back to his best against Apoel, added: “It means so much to the fans. As well as it does to the players, the atmosphere is going to be fantastic, whoever we play [in the round of 16]. Getting to this stage in the Champions League is something that us boys haven’t really experienced as a group yet.
“So we’re looking forward to just seeing how we get on as we test ourselves, and hopefully we can go on a Champions League run and do really well.”
Dan is ESPN FC’s Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.