AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley studied Tottenham Hotpsur’s philosophy for up to four days ahead of the team’s FA Cup tie at Wembley.

The Dons were meeting the Premier League club for the first time ever in their history since forming in 2002, but their cup run game to an end as they were dispatched 3-0.

But Ardley enjoyed going up against his opposite number in Mauricio Pochettino at one of English football’s biggest grounds.

He told Wimbledon Guardian: “That was great, and I said in the build-up that we’ve got many world class managers now over here and he’s probably one of the best in the way he handles the press, the way he talks, his honesty, the way he is with his players.

“He’s probably the one I most liken myself to and admire in that respect, so it’s great to put yourself up against these people. It was good because for three or four days I studied the philosophy that they play, not knowing what team we were going to play against.

“It was more about coping with their philosophies so it was great to see the sort of things they do that make them so successful. Because when you watch a game of football, you watch it as fans at home and you don’t quite see why they are so good.

“When you study it because you’ve got to come up against them you start going, ‘Oh wow’.

“They hurt you from so many different ways and it was interesting for me to just try and coach for three days to try and set a team up to deal with it, and again for an hour I thought we were almost foot perfect.”

The Dons manager admits he was stunned to see the starting 11 that was put out by Spurs, believing they would feature a weakened team given the difference between the two clubs.

When asked about his reaction to Spurs’ team, Ardley added: “I was very surprised. I will be having a word with him when we get in there about taking it too seriously.

“No I was surprised, it was a bit like ‘wow’. My assistant took the team sheet and when he saw Harry Kane walk in he thought, ‘This has got to be a wind-up’.

“As I say, great credit [to them]. They train hard Spurs, they’re fit boys, and obviously they believed this was the team he needed. And the fact he’s had to make some substitutions and change the shape to finally get on top of us is something that, tactically, was quite good.”

Now AFC Wimbledon are planning to strengthen the squad during the January transfer window as they fight to remain in League One.

He said: “We lost Kwesi Appiah earlier in the season and he was a big signing for us, and it looks like he’s going to need an op now. We’ve had him out for 15 weeks and he’s probably going to be out for nearly the rest of the season.

“We’ve been going on two strikers all season, which isn’t ideal, we’re used to going with four. So we definitely need to be active in that respect to give us better options going forward. Lighten the load on Lyle [Taylor] and Cody [McDonald], so that is where we’ll be.

“But I don’t think there will be any money spent on any of them. They will probably be free transfers, unfortunately.