Spurs boss: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will go down in history as one of the best
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Mauricio Pochettino says Jose Mourinho will go down in history as one of the best football managers ever as Tottenham prepare to visit Manchester United on Sunday.
Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea last December, arrived at Old Trafford to a big fanfare in May - but his side currently lie sixth in the Premier League table, six points behind fifth-placed Spurs and 13 points off the top.
The 53-year-old has served two touchline bans this season, most recently for kicking a water bottle in frustration during a match against West Ham last month – but Pochettino’s view of his fellow manager has not changed.
“For me he’s the Special One and he will always be the Special One,” said the Spurs boss. “For me he was a reference when I started at Espanyol and started my career. He was always very kind with me and opened his door.
“I always try to assess my colleagues and try to be objective, and I really believe he’s one of the best. In some periods in football you sometimes struggle a little bit because it’s not easy to arrive at a new club and settle your ideas, your philosophy. But for me he was, and is, and will be one of the best managers in the history of football.
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“It’s too difficult to control yourself sometimes, but I think he doesn’t do things differently to other managers and his behaviour is normal. Sometimes you show your disappointment but he wasn’t different than other managers.
“But because he’s the Special One sometimes the people are focused on him – the referee is focused on him, the media is focused on him. If you maybe compare him with other managers, they behave worse than him and they are not in the focus because maybe they are not the Special One, like him.
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“I think the gap [above United], ok it’s looks big but there are a lot of games ahead to the end of the league. The Premier League is very tough.
“Maybe now you are in a good or bad period but we always have the facility to recover and reduce the gap, and when you have good players and a good squad and you’re at a good club it’s always possible.”
Tottenham have had an extra day to prepare for Sunday’s game after their European commitments this week.
Spurs faced CSKA Moscow at Wembley Stadium in the Champions League on Wednesday, while United were in action against Zorya Luhansk in Ukraine in the Europa League last night.
“For us, last season and the season before, it was always tough to play Thursday and then Sunday,” said Pochettino. “Now we have one day more. I don’t remember in two and a half years here another time when we had the one-day advantage.
“But I think when you play against a team like Manchester United, they have a very strong squad and they can always rotate their players - but that’s Mourinho’s decision. We only know it will be a very tough game for us. They’re a great team and it’s sure it will be a very competitive game.”
Ben Davies is fit to return to Tottenham’s squad at Old Trafford this weekend, while Toby Alderweireld could start after making his comeback from a knee injury against CSKA in midweek.
Erik Lamela is still absent – the Argentinean is injured and is in his homeland due to personal reasons – and Vincent Janssen is also out of action with an ankle injury.
“He (Janssen) got an injection in his ankle,” Pochettino said. “He’s in a process to recover from his injury. We’ll see. In one week, 10 days, maybe in two weeks he can be available again.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs