With seven new quality players now on board, Newcastle's current players have to prove that they are worthy of maintaining their roles as starters or primary substitutes.
But Pochettino stuck up for the England captain and World Cup Golden Boot victor when he said: 'For me, he is in his best form whether he scores or doesn't score.
"I am so proud of the performance in the circumstances". You can look at all the other teams around us - they might have signed players, but not many of those players that they've signed are better than the players they've already got. "We can do better, and be more consistent but it was a massive challenge to connect everything and prepare in the few days we had".
"The players that are out of the squad are because the same situation, are all in the condition to train".
Vertonghen said: "You go a bit blind and you hope for some contact, and I had it. Sometimes we were a bit lucky but it was a very good start for us".
However, any concerns about a lack of fresh faces were quickly alleviated in an end-to-end opening at a sun-kissed St James' Park.
The Colombian's header down was met at the far post by Vertonghen under pressure from Paul Dummett and the ball ricocheted down from the crossbar, with referee Martin Atkinson awarding the goal after being alerted that the ball had crossed the line. We were fighting until the end and we had some chances, especially in the second half against a good team.
The midfielder's winning goal, a back-post header from a Serge Aurier cross in front of the Gallowgate End, was not unlike the one he scored in the last-eight victory over Sweden.
Rafa Benitez believes Newcastle United will have a successful season if the perform in the same manner as Saturday's loss to Tottenham Hotspur. But at the same time you could see our team spirit and the chances that we had. "We conceded and reacted well, and then showed good fight", the Newcastle coach said.
"It was a game that from the beginning of the season is always hard - teams with a lot of energy", the Argentine explained.