Under-pressure Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho needs “time to put his ideas in place” at Old Trafford, Mauricio Pochettino has told ESPN Argentina.
Mourinho has had a difficult start at United, who are sixth in the table and eight points behind leaders Liverpool ahead of Saturday’s match against Arsenal.
The outspoken Portuguese, who has also suffered embarrassing defeats in the Europa League and EFL Cup, has already publicly criticised his players and fallen foul of the Football Association (FA) — signs suggesting his tenure at United is already unravelling.
But Tottenham manager Pochettino, who he endured a transitional maiden season in North London before transforming the club, called for Mourinho to be given time.
“It’s clear that when you are with a great club, as I am with Tottenham, the pressure to win is always greater,” Pochettino told ESPN Argentina. “And there are always voices of criticism when the results are not what everyone anticipates.
“Definitely, whenever one starts a new project, it requires time. In this case, even though Jose is one of the best coaches in the world, he needs more time to put his ideas in place and so that the team can function as he wants them to. It is too early to pass judgment regarding things that are happening with the teams just yet.”
Mourinho is United’s third permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down after 26 years in charge in 2013, and Pochettino has previously made the bold claim that he would like to build a legacy at Spurs to match Ferguson’s at Old Trafford.
Pochettino met Ferguson for lunch in May last year and he admitted that only a “special talent” like the Scot, or Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, have the capacity to be successful for so long.
“I would like to have another chance to have dinner with Sir. Alex Ferguson because he is very hard to understand, especially because of my English,” laughed Pochettino.
“Those were two very enriching hours, especially because of who he is and what he transmits, such as his energy, his personality and his character. These are things I also saw when he was on the sideline or at a news conference. To have met with him for me is a dream come true.
“To be that successful, have ups and downs and yet know how to reinvent oneself season after season only can be done by people who have enormous talent and mental capacity as is also the case with Arsene Wenger. Beyond the fact that Arsenal are our arch-rivals, you have to recognise that to be in charge over 20 years, you have to have some special talent. Without that, it is impossible.”
Pochettino has admirers of his own, including Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, who described the former Espanyol boss as one of the best managers in the world last month.
“Guardiola doesn’t need to praise my work. At this level, if he makes a comment like that, he does it in all honesty and that is very nice,” Pochettino said. “If he said it and he meant it, logically, that is a great accomplishment for me.”