It is simple doing business with Levy, reveals Pochettino
Manager says Ferguson wrong about chairman Spurs now able to stop United ‘picking’ players
Mauricio Pochettino has claimed he finds it easy to negotiate with the man who holds the keys to his Tottenham Hotspur future, chairman Daniel Levy.
Manchester United have made Pochettino their No1 choice to permanently succeed Jose Mourinho and they travel to Wembley to face Spurs tomorrow. The game will place greater scrutiny on Pochettino’s future, with Levy set to host the men who want to lure away his manager in the Wembley lounge set up for the directors of each club ahead of kick-off.
Sir Alex Ferguson is among Pochettino’s backers at United and the Scotsman famously described the experience of dealing with Levy over Dimitar Berbatov’s move from Spurs as “more painful than my hip replacement”. United have not traded with Tottenham since the Berbatov deal, having previously taken the likes of Michael Carrick and Teddy Sheringham, but Pochettino believes he can sweet talk Levy.
Asked about Ferguson’s assertion of Levy, Pochettino replied: “For me, it’s the opposite. For me, if there was one person that was easy to do business with, it was Daniel.”
Pochettino insisted he was joking after he added: “Historically, other [Spurs] managers were the opponent of Daniel, they always fight with him. I think it’s only me maybe that has a good relationship with him.”
Due to the fact he does not employ an agent, Pochettino himself negotiated his £8.5 million-a-year deal, which will still have four years to run in the summer.
The Argentine clearly believes he drove a hard bargain with his employer and yet Levy will be delighted he has the 46-year-old tied to a long-term deal ahead of a summer in which United and Real Madrid could make approaches.
On the subject of what it was like trying to negotiate a contract with Levy, Pochettino said: “For me, it was not difficult, I think it was more difficult for him because I am the manager and he cannot upset me. If we are talking about extending a contract or giving me more money, you need to be careful.
“With agents, you can talk very openly and say anything you want and the agent will manage the situation. But when you are talking directly to your manager, you need to be careful because one word can change the negotiation or change your mind. For him, that was new and it was tough every time he needed to talk to me.”
There was no hesitation when Pochettino was asked whether he was a hard negotiator. “Yes,” he said. “For me, I negotiate harder when I am talking about my staff. They deserve a lot of credit. I am tougher when I talk about them because I feel a massive responsibility when I talk about them because they depend on me.”
Tottenham used to be powerless when United came calling, but have demonstrated how the gap between the clubs has closed by keeping the likes of Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld, who have all interested the Old Trafford club.
While explaining how Spurs could now say no to United, Pochettino may have hit on why United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward may find Levy a good deal more difficult to negotiate with than he himself has found.
Pochettino said: “It’s true that today the Premier League is so competitive and 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’s so difficult.
“It’s the same situation that happens with big clubs. Like you say, the example of Manchester pick- ing players from Tottenham, Tottenham picking players from whoever, so I think everything has changed.”
Tomorrow’s game represents the first big challenge of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s caretaker reign and a United victory would strengthen his claim for the permanent job.
Pochettino revealed yesterday that he and Tottenham goalkeeper coach Toni Jimenez cheered Solskjaer’s dramatic Champions Leaguewinning goal for United against Bayern Munich from inside the Nou Camp in 1999.
“I was there when he scored,” said Pochettino. “I was there with Toni Jimenez watching a fantastic game and how I shouted for a Manchester United goal was incredible.
“The last minute, when [Teddy] Sheringham scored, when [Peter] Schmeichel went up to the penalty box. And we said ‘wow, amazing game, now injury time’. 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. And now it’s a coincidence that we are meeting.”
No problem: Mauricio Pochettino says talks with Daniel Levy are ‘not difficult’