Daily Press - - Sports Extra -

LON­DON ur­ing a decade in man­age­ment, Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino has never lifted a tro­phy. The Ar­gen­tine is still one of the most cov­eted coaches in world soc­cer.

When­ever a job comes up at a lead­ing club, you can be sure Po­chet­tino’s name will be in the mix for the va­cancy. From Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Ger­main and, mostly no­tably re­cently, Manch­ester United.

Yet, Po­chet­tino re­mains in the du­gout at Tot­ten­ham, a bond of loy­alty that is be­ing in­creas­ingly stretched by a lack of fi­nan­cial back­ing in the trans­fer mar­ket to end that tro­phy drought.

Po­chet­tino on Sun­day tests him­self against the club that could tempt him away from Tot­ten­ham in the sum­mer, and the man­ager try­ing to show he has the cre­den­tials to keep the job: Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer’s Manch­ester United.

When Jose Mour­inho was fired by United in De­cem­ber, Po­chet­tino emerged as the fa­vorite to be hired his longterm suc­ces­sor at the end of the sea­son. But Sol­sk­jaer has given the own­ing Glazer fam­ily some­thing to think about. Brought in to halt the de­cline as a short-term fix, the for­mer United striker has opened with five suc­ces­sive vic­to­ries, equal­ing the club record for a new man­ager.

A vic­tory over Tot­ten­ham at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium would be a sig­nif­i­cant state­ment of Sol­sk­jaer’s cre­den­tials. The fact Tot­ten­ham is now viewed as a tough test for United demon­strates the club’s progress un­der Po­chet­tino.

Dur­ing the Alex Fer­gu­son­era at United, the man­ager was re­puted to have told his play­ers “Lads, it’s Tot­ten­ham,” in a team-talk dis­miss­ing the north Lon­don club as soft.

By the time Tot­ten­ham over­whelmed Mour­inho’s United 3-0 at Old Traf­ford in Au­gust, it was clear just how Po­chet­tino has trans­formed his team into a force to be reck­oned with.

On mea­ger re­sources, by Premier League stan­dards.

Since the 46-year-old Po­chet­tino was hired from Southamp­ton in 2014, Tot­ten­ham only has a net trans­fer spend of 29 mil­lion pounds ($37 mil­lion) — tak­ing into ac­count in­com­ings and de­par­tures.

By com­par­i­son in the last five years, Manch­ester City has ben­e­fited from net spend­ing of 518 mil­lion pounds and United has splurged 466 mil­lion pounds. Arse­nal and Chelsea have topped 200 mil­lion pounds, while Liver­pool’s net spend is 183 mil­lion pounds.

Tot­ten­ham has fin­ished above ev­ery other team at some point un­der Po­chet­tino, en­joy­ing three suc­ces­sive top-four ap­pear­ance to se­cure a route into the lu­cra­tive Cham­pi­ons League. Be­fore Po­chet­tino’s ar­rival, Tot­ten­ham had only played once in the Cham­pi­ons League in the 2010-11 sea­son.

Even after be­com­ing the first Premier League team not to sign a player since the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow was in­tro­duced in 2003, Tot­ten­ham is still hold­ing its own in third place. Liver­pool is six points ahead and City only two points in front of Tot­ten­ham. Chelsea is four points back, Arse­nal a fur­ther three points adrift and United is still in sixth place de­spite the re­vival un­der Sol­sk­jaer.

“He has done a very good job,” Sol­sk­jaer said Thurs­day about Po­chet­tino. “That spec­u­la­tion (about the United job) is there for a rea­son be­cause he has done well but it’s not my job to rate man­agers, my fo­cus is on me and my team.”

Po­chet­tino is con­stantly re­mind­ing peo­ple just what he is com­pet­ing against.

“Some­times peo­ple talk about win­ning ti­tles,” he said this week. “One thing is to re­duce the gap with the top four, to be com­pet­i­tive, to cre­ate a team ca­pa­ble of fight­ing with the big sides. But if after we want to win ti­tles we

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