16 Feb Mabbutt tips Pochettino to stay
Mauricio Pochettino would reject both Manchester United and Chelsea this summer, according to former Tottenham captain Gary Mabbutt.
Pochettino is fast establishing himself as one of the most talented coaches in Europe having led Spurs to second in the Barclays Premier League with 12 matches left to play.
Victory at Manchester City on Sunday strengthened the belief that Tottenham can not only fulfil their primary aim of qualifying for next season’s Champions League but win a first league title since 1961.
It represents a remarkable turnaround for a squad that was unbalanced and underperforming under Tim Sherwood two years ago, and Pochettino deserves much of the credit.
The Argentine is reportedly impressing the hierarchies at both Chelsea and Manchester United but Mabbutt, who captained Tottenham to an FA Cup victory in 1991, believes the Spurs boss would snub any chance to leave.
“I am convinced he would turn down any advances from Manchester United or Chelsea,” said Mabbutt, speaking in advance of the London Football Awards.
“I’m sure he sees this squad of players and what is happening at Tottenham on and off the field and realises these are very exciting times for the club.
“Those people saying he might get tempted away, I would say to them when was the last time Totttenham had a very good chance of winning the title?
“Probably 50 years ago. We came third in the league during my time but this side now has that ability to do it, not just this year, but for years to come.”
Chelsea will be on the lookout for a new boss in the summer with Guus Hiddink only a temporary appointment while Louis van Gaal’s position at United appears increasingly precarious.
But while the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Dimitar Berbatov have all departed Spurs in recent seasons, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge are perhaps not as tempting as they once were, as Chelsea sit 14 points off the top four and United are six adrift.
“We have had players who have left for what they have seen as bigger clubs,” Mabbutt said.
“But if you look at Tottenham now, the opportunities that are going to arise over the next few years are going to be immense.
“Chelsea and Manchester United might not even be in the Champions League next year – the usual suspects were expected to challenge for the title but those teams haven’t stepped up to the mark.”
Pochettino still has three and a half years left on his current contract and while Tottenham are understood to be relaxed about potential interest from elsewhere, they are also keen to reward their head coach with a longer deal.
The 43-year-old enjoys a strong relationship with chairman Daniel Levy and his philosophy chimes with the club’s values of playing attractive football and nurturing young talent.
“What I like about Mauricio is he is a very private person but he has embraced everything that is part of the club and the history,” Mabbutt said.
“Earlier this season he came to a dinner with the chairman and lots of past players at the club and those sorts of things are all very positive.
“He is a gentleman and he is showing us exactly why he is the right man at Tottenham.
“After the City match I saw him hugging the players and applauding the fans – it shows he knows how important it is to everyone connected with the club.”
Spurs play the first of two legs against Fiorentina in the Europa League on Thursday, with Crystal Palace in the FA Cup to follow on Sunday.
The return of Europe’s second tier competition could prove an unwanted burden on Tottenham’s league ambitions, with some suggesting the club’s title challenge would be boosted if they exited the competition.
“I disagree with that, I say whichever players the manager decides to select, we are going to be in with a chance,” Mabbutt said.
“At Watford they rotated both full-backs – Kieran Trippier scored the winning goal and Ben Davies was outstanding down the left – so if these are the players to be rotated in, it will still be a very strong side.
“Whoever he plays at the moment, it’s players who want to play their best because they can see what is developing at Tottenham and what might be happening over the next few years. They want to be part of it.”
Gary Mabbutt is attending the London Football Awards in London on in aid of national charity, Willow, on March 3. Tickets still available at londonfootballawards.org.