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Mauricio Pochettino Praises Alex Ferguson Ahead of Spurs vs. Manchester United

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2019

Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson, left, and Southampton's  manager Mauricio Pochettino stand on the touchline during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Wednesday Jan. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has spoken of his "admiration" for former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson is regarded as one of the best coaches in history, having guided the Red Devils to 13 Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League on two occasions.

In May, the 77-year-old required surgery on a brain haemorrhage and spent time in intensive care. He has since recovered, returning to Old Trafford to watch the Red Devils in September. Recently, United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed the iconic coach had visited the team's training ground to speak to players.

When asked about Ferguson ahead of the showdown between United and Tottenham at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Pochettino said the Scotsman has always been an inspiration for him, per Sky Sports:

"Did you send best wishes when he was ill? Yes, I did. I cannot hide my admiration and relationship with him. He was one of the people I admired the most, an inspiration.

"We had a very nice lunch in London [in 2016], and since then we have kept a good relationship. We are football people. Has Ferguson given United a new energy? He is the best manager in the history of football. To see him every day is massive. He is an encyclopedia of football."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08:  Mauricio Pochettino the manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on January 8, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex
Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

There has been some speculation that Pochettino will possibly follow in Ferguson's footsteps, as the Spurs coach has been strongly linked with a move to United. Solskjaer stepped in to replace former boss Jose Mourinho, who was sacked in December following the Red Devils' worst start to a Premier League season.

As Miguel Delaney of The Independent noted ahead of this game, both Ferguson and Solskjaer were also linked with Spurs earlier in their careers:

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

Also often forgotten, Spurs thought they had Ferguson in 1984, and Solskjaer himself in 1998. The clubs have had a few sliding-doors moments. This summer could be another - esp if (as I expect) Poch stays https://t.co/08i74MTsEo

Getting Pochettino away from Tottenham will be a huge challenge for United, as his team is much further ahead in its development than the Red Devils. Spurs go into Sunday's top-flight encounter 10 points clear of United and still in the hunt for four trophies.

Even so, largely down to the work done by Ferguson in the Premier League era, many people consider United to be the biggest club in football. That status would surely be alluring to Pochettino.

Bleacher Report's Rob Blanchette thinks the recent signs are positive for United:

Rob Blanchette @_Rob_B

Pochettino admitting he was in the Camp Nou the night #MUFC won the Treble and says even though he was a neutral he cheered Ole's goal. Managers don't say these things for no reason.

Given they have some excellent young players, a new stadium to move into shortly and seemingly the foundation to challenge for major honours, it would be a gamble for Pochettino to walk away from Tottenham in an attempt to rejuvenate United.

However, it appears as though the former Argentina international holds an affinity for the Old Trafford club, and he clearly has a connection with Ferguson too. That will be a worry for Tottenham supporters ahead of what promises to be a critical summer for both clubs.

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