Tottenham's Christian Eriksen does not need awards - Mauricio Pochettino
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has hailed the importance of Christian Eriksen, saying the "special" playmaker is happy to let his Tottenham teammates take the accolades.
Top goal scorer Harry Kane was nominated for the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year awards on Thursday, while Dele Alli is the favourite to retain the latter -- but there was no recognition for Eriksen, despite his importance to Spurs' title challenge.
Eriksen has 11 league assists -- no-one has more -- and he has created 88 chances in the Premier League this season, more than anyone else. Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne is second with 75, while Spurs' next best is Alli on 42.
He has also covered more ground than anyone at Spurs this season and scored seven goals, but Pochettino said he did not need praise for his form.
"He is so special. We always call him 'Golazo' because he is capable of scoring unbelievable goals. The recognition from us is massive. He feels that we love him. It is true he is so quiet, so calm, he is a very relaxed person but he loves football," Pochettino said.
"He is a player that does not need too much feedback from the fans, the media, the people outside. He always has a smile, he is a happy person and I like him a lot because he does not need to be recognised. He needs only to feel the love from us inside the club. I like that a lot."
The 25-year-old was off-colour in the autumn but his return to his best has coincided with Tottenham's surge up the table, and they could move to within four points of league leaders Chelsea with a record 12th-consecutive home win against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Eriksen has always been a regular under Pochettino but he has previously been unhappy at playing a wide role, rather than his favoured No. 10.
This season the Spurs manager has often used a 3-4-2-1 formation, using Alli and Eriksen as No. 10s, and he believes the system has brought the best out of both players.
"Do you think Dele Alli plays in the No. 10 role in my team?" Pochettino asked reporters. "The No. 10 role doesn't exist. There is a No. 9 and we play with two No. 10s. It's like some [other] teams that play with two No. 8s.
"I think it's important, no? That is what it means to be flexible, because if you have two players like Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, who both can play in the pocket, in behind the No. 9, you must create a system that can fit them both.
"You can see Dele or Eriksen with a No. 9 -- Harry, Vincent [Janssen], Sonny [Son Heung-Min], I don't know -- use the pocket and we create many different things to try to swap the positions -- they play on the right or the left, sometimes drop [deep] to try to build from the back when the teams play deeper.
"We try to play now with two No. 10s that play facing the opponents' goal, not with their back to the opponents' goal. I think that the formation and the system and the philosophy helps a lot Christian and Dele. And they help a lot with the system and the philosophy that we play. It's in both directions."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.