Tottenham vs Manchester United: Mauricio Pochettino says Daniel Levy deserves 'massive credit'

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Mauricio Pochettino has bestowed “massive credit” upon Daniel Levy for his part in Tottenham Hotspur turning around their inferiority complex with Manchester United.

Spurs host United at Wembley having won their last three ‘home’ games against them, United now not having won at Spurs since March 2012. Earlier this season Spurs even won 3-0 at Old Trafford and Pochettino still said he was disappointed with the performance afterwards. The days of ‘lads, it’s Tottenham’ feel far behind.

There used to be a time when Spurs would lose their best players to United, with Teddy Sheringham, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick all heading from White Hart Lane to Old Trafford over the years. But recently United have not managed to realise their interest in Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker or Danny Rose. And one of Jose Mourinho’s last comments before he was sacked was complaining that nowadays, unlike in the past, the United boss could no longer have his pick of Tottenham player like in the old days.

Spurs are not exactly equals with United now, but they can hold their own in more ways than used to be the case. This could be put down to Pochettino’s coaching but he gave credit to his boss, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, for strengthening the club so that they were not always trampled over by United any more. Spurs moved into a brand-new training ground in 2012, among the best in Europe, and this year they should move into a brand new stadium too.

“Of course you need to give [Daniel] the credit because when he was here, 15, 16 years ago, Tottenham was a completely different club, was a club that was fighting in the relegation zone, or mid-table, I don’t know. But there were mid-table facilities. And today we are in the top for facilities. And in the last few years, the club is fighting with the big sides. That is massive credit to him, of course.”

Pochettino made clear that any credit coming his way should ultimately be redirected to his boss instead. “Of course we cannot take credit from him. Because if when sometimes you praise me, it’s massive credit for him because he signed me and he brought me.” He said that this was because Levy is such a famously good negotiator. “Daniel is, you know very well, he is so tough to negotiate with. For the clubs, it’s so difficult, for different clubs in England to do business with him. It’s not an easy person to do business with.”

This also comes down to money. Teams like Tottenham are far richer than they ever used to be, which means they can say no to big-money offers for their players in a way that never used to be the case.

“Today for Tottenham to go to, I don’t know, to Southampton and sign a player like they used to do, like with Gareth Bale, today, it is so difficult, to go and to pick someone from Southampton. It’s the same situation that happens with big clubs. Everything has changed. Today it’s so difficult to do business in between the English clubs. Because in the end, the market has changed a lot. And of course today an English player, in between the clubs, is so difficult to do business because the market is so high if you compare with Europe.”

Daniel Levy has masterminded Spurs’ transfer dealings with a limited budget (Getty)

Pochettino will face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday, 20 years after watching the most famous moment of his career from the Nou Camp directors’ box. When Solskjaer scored the injury-time winner for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final, Pochettino was a 27-year-old centre back playing for Espanyol. But he had found seats in the directors’ box at the Nou Camp, alongside his friend Toni Jimenez, now Spurs’ goalkeeping coach. This weekend they will see Solskjaer again.

“I remember that we were in a very bad place, and we started to walk around the stand of the Camp Nou, on the same level of the VIP area. we crossed and jumped, up, up and up, and we arrived to the directors’ box. We found two seats there, and we sat there, it was fantastic.  And then, when Solskjaer scored, we were shouting, celebrating, I don’t know why. Because in that moment we were neutral. But the atmosphere was amazing.”

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