It is sim­ple do­ing busi­ness with Levy, re­veals Po­chet­tino

Man­ager says Fer­gu­son wrong about chair­man Spurs now able to stop United ‘pick­ing’ play­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Matt Law

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’

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