Mauricio Pochettino has suggested his next coaching position will be in Spain or England as LaLiga and the Premier League are "the two best leagues in the world".

The former Tottenham boss, who was sacked in November and replaced by Jose Mourinho, was linked with the Barcelona job before Quique Setien was named Ernesto Valverde's successor.

Pochettino has been heavily linked with Manchester United during what has been an inconsistent season for the Red Devils under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 47-year-old certainly appears prepared to take another job in England's top flight, although he also admires LaLiga, where he began his senior coaching career with Espanyol.

He said at a LaLiga TV event: "For me, I was so lucky to start my career as a manager at Espanyol in Barcelona and then to come to the Premier League to learn a different language and culture and I am a better person today.

"I have more knowledge and had a great experience. The Premier League is the Premier League. Football was born here in England but I think LaLiga has amazing football and amazing coaches."

He added: "England and Spain are the two best leagues in the world."

Pochettino is reported to have been approached about the Barcelona job despite insisting previously he could never take charge at Camp Nou due to his ties with city rivals Espanyol.

With Setien now installed on a contract until June 2022, Pochettino admits he will be very interested to follow the former Real Betis coach's efforts.

"Barcelona, of course, are one of the greatest teams in the world. Of course, now with the new manager, everyone is expecting him to continue the same philosophy," he said.

"Valverde did a fantastic job in LaLiga and with Barcelona and it's a massive challenge for Quique Setien. He showed unbelievable love for Johan Cruyff and the style of football of Barcelona.

"I think it's a great opportunity for him to live his dream and it's so amazing to follow what's going to happen."

Barcelona appear ready to turn to their next coaching target as the LaLiga giants eye Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde is under enormous pressure after the Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid, but Xavi has reportedly turned down the job – for now.

Amid contrasting reports over Barca's next decision, they may be lining up a move for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONTACT POCHETTINO OVER COACHING JOB

Barcelona contacted former Tottenham manager Pochettino to be their next boss, according to RAC1.

It comes as widespread reports in Spain say Al Sadd boss and former Barcelona star Xavi turned down the position.

Meanwhile, Catalunya Radio reported Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman also rejected the opportunity.

After a meeting on Sunday, Barca decided to stick with Valverde for now, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reports Manchester United had agreed to terms with Bruno Fernandes, the Mirror says the Premier League club are set to bid £65million (€76.1m) for the Sporting CP midfielder this week.

- Tottenham are set to sign Benfica's Gedson Fernandes as further details about a possible move emerge. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Spurs will sign the Portugal international on loan with an option to buy for between £42.7m (€50m) and £51.2m (€60m) in 2021.

- Jerome Boateng continues to be linked with a Bayern Munich exit. Milan are ready to challenge Arsenal for the defender, according to Sky Germany.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, it appears Layvin Kurzawa's future is away from Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe reports the left-back – who has made just five Ligue 1 starts this campaign – recently rejected Inter but the Serie A club remain hopeful of signing the 27-year-old this month.

- Juventus are looking to the future. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A champions are keeping an eye on teenage Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and AZ forward Calvin Stengs.

Massimiliano Allegri is without a club since leaving Serie A champions Juventus at the end of 2018-19.

However, Allegri could be nearing a return to management sooner rather than later.

The Italian is believed to be interested in taking charge of Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI WANTS UNITED JOB

Massimiliano Allegri is interested in becoming Manchester United manager as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Allegri has been rumoured to be of interest to Bayern Munich after leaving Serie A champions Juve at the end of last season, while the Italian was also linked to Arsenal prior to Mikel Arteta's appointment.

However, he is reportedly holding out for the United job should Solskjaer be sacked. Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

- ElDesmarque claims MLS duo Inter Miami and LA Galaxy are ready to vie for the signature of Real Madrid's Gareth BaleChelsea, though, have also been linked with the former Tottenham star.

- The race is heating up for Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek. Struggling for goals and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back at San Siro, the Poland international is wanted by Tottenham, reports The Guardian and Calciomercato. Spurs want to boost their attacking options following Harry Kane's injury. Aston Villa have also tabled a bid for Piatek, but Calciomercato claims he is holding out for a bigger club.

- While Piatek could prove a difficult signing, Villa are closing in on Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Calciomercato, Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb say former Liverpool keeper Reina has agreed a contract with the Premier League side until the end of the season.

- The Mirror reports United are in the market to sign a defender on loan after Harry Maguire's injury. Maguire – the world's most expensive defender – is facing a spell on the sidelines due to a muscle tear.

United are also weighing up a move for Ajax and Netherlands star Donny van de Beek, reports The Telegraph. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, the Red Devils are in need of midfield reinforcements. Van de Beek has previously been linked to Real Madrid.

- AS claims Atletico Madrid are looking at Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik as an alternative to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani. Out of contract at season's end, Cavani is reportedly poised to make the move to Atletico, however, United and Arsenal are also interested.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter winger Matteo Politano has agreed to join city rivals Milan. Struggling for game time with the Nerazzurri, Politano's agent met with Milan's management on Wednesday as a shock switch nears.

Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for West Ham defender Issa Diop, according to the Express. London rivals Tottenham are also reportedly interested.

Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he would have considered taking the Arsenal job if he had been approached, despite his "love" for former club Tottenham.

The 47-year-old was sacked by Tottenham on November 19 after a difficult start to the season, with Jose Mourinho brought in as his replacement the following day.

He returned to his native Argentina to unwind but declared earlier this month he is open to making a swift return to the dugout should the right opportunity present itself.

Pochettino was linked with the Arsenal job following Unai Emery's departure, but Mikel Arteta was confirmed as the club's new permanent head coach on Friday.

However, the former Espanyol and Southampton boss has reiterated he would have been open to talking with Arsenal over the position and potentially crossing the north London divide.

"When I say I am open, I am open. I cannot say that I am open but I'm closed to someone," he said, according to The Mirror.

"It's different if you receive an approach and you listen and say yes or no. That's different.

"But you can't say that I'm open but on that I am not open. You are open and then you are open. Anything can happen. When I say I am open, I am open to listen to any club."

Pochettino has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City amid speculation the Catalan coach is considering an end-of-season exit.

Addressing the recent speculation, Pochettino said: "To be honest, I don't read too much. I'm lucky now because I have [assistant] Jesus Perez with me and he reads it all for me.

"Of course I love the Premier League, the English fans and if not the best, it's one of the best leagues in the world and for any manager it's very exciting to be involved in the Premier League.

"But it's not just the Premier League, there's other leagues, different clubs which can be exciting and can give you a challenge that is maybe different."

Pochettino guided Spurs to four successive top-four finishes in the Premier League and to their first Champions League final earlier this year.

Chairman Daniel Levy this week suggested Pochettino could return to Tottenham for a second spell one day, and the Argentinian is not ruling anything out.

"Look at what happened with Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid - there's plenty of examples and the most important thing is when you finish the relationships remain in a very good way and my love for Tottenham goes on," he said.

"You feel that always from the fans, you feel the love and in football you never know. The same coaches or managers one day leave and then go back, different presidents, different times. Now it's not in my hands, it's in another person's hands.

"We need to move on and of course you have different motivations and challenges in our life and we have to make sure we have the right energy to attack the new challenge and try to achieve all the new things that people expect from you."

Mikel Arteta looks to be on his way out of Manchester City, and it may not be long before he is followed by Pep Guardiola.

That is if reports linking Paris Saint-Germain with a move for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach are to be believed.

Meanwhile, Arteta is not the only big managerial appointment expected imminently in the Premier League, with Carlo Ancelotti close to being confirmed as Everton boss, and reports suggest a big-name could be in line to follow the Italian to Goodison Park.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA LINED UP BY PSG

According to Le10 Sport, Paris Saint-Germain will look to swap Thomas Tuchel with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola next season.

Guardiola is currently under contract with City until 2021, though has said he is open to extending his deal. However, these reports claim PSG will aim to bring in the Spaniard, along with former Barca star Xavi, who will act as his number two.

While City are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, PSG are top of Ligue 1 and will face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Mauricio Pochettino is holding off on making any commitment to Real Madrid as he waits to see how Guardiola's situation at Manchester City plays out.

- According to The Telegraph, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is open to linking up with former boss Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. Ancelotti is reportedly set to be appointed by the Toffees and Ibrahimovic – who has been linked to Milan and Napoli – could follow him to Merseyside.

Mesut Ozil is close to securing a loan move from Arsenal to Fenerbahce in January, according to Turkish newspaper Fotomac.

- Madrid winger Vinicius Jr. has been linked with a move to the Premier League. El Desmarque reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves are all interested in the Brazilian.

- Another potential outgoing from Arsenal could be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with The Mirror saying one of Arteta's first tasks will be to convince the Gunners' captain to stay put.

- Sky Sports reports Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs are all monitoring Lille forward Victor Osimhen, who has scored nine Ligue 1 goals this term.

- Inter great Dejan Stankovic is poised to become head coach of Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade. After Vladan Milojevic stepped down on Thursday, reports in Serbia claim the former Red Star midfielder will be unveiled on Friday. This is set to be Stankovic's first senior job.

Tottenham are considering a January move for Leicester City full-back Ricardo Pereira, says Het Nieuwsblad.

Mauricio Pochettino could one day return to Tottenham for a second spell at the helm, chairman Daniel Levy has suggested.

Pochettino – who guided Spurs to four successive top-four finishes in the Premier League, as well as last season's Champions League final – was sacked in November following a poor start to the campaign.

Jose Mourinho was swiftly appointed his successor, with Spurs winning five of their seven matches since in all competitions.

Levy made the call to dismiss Pochettino, but hinted it does not necessarily mean the end of the Argentine's association with Spurs, who established themselves as one of the Premier League's elite clubs under his guidance.

"You have to understand I had built up a personal relationship with Mauricio over five and a half years," Levy told the Evening Standard.

"It is not something I ever wanted. Personally, it was incredibly difficult, I told him that and he understood.

"He's been in football [a long time], he understands. It's not personal and I'm sure he'll come back stronger and get an opportunity to manage another great club. Maybe one day he'll come back to us.

"I'm not going to sit here and analyse the past. It's not productive. Mauricio did a fantastic job for us, we are very grateful. I wish him all the best for the future.

"I'm still in contact with him. My relationship is very good with him. It just got to the point where it felt we needed a divorce."

Spurs wasted little time in bringing in Mourinho and, though Levy confirmed other options were considered, the Portuguese was always the club's top priority.

"Many years ago, I can't remember exactly, we were linked with him," said Levy. "But I'd never spoken to Jose. We never had a conversation. And his availability was totally unrelated to Mauricio, not connected at all.

"I can't remember when I first spoke to Jose, but once I made the decision in my mind we had to make the change, although internally we knew of more than one candidate who would have been interested, Jose was absolutely number one.

"We had a number of discussions. Firstly, it was such a hard decision and you never know what you are really getting until you work with somebody.

"There are lots of perceptions out there in relation to Jose that I'm not sure are true. I wanted to spend some time with him so we were totally aligned, on the basis there was no point him coming to a club where he expected different things to us. And we were totally aligned on the strategy going forward."

Master meets apprentice in the Premier League this weekend as Jose Mourinho and Tottenham entertain Frank Lampard's Chelsea.

Spurs, after taking 12 points from a possible 15 under their new boss, have the chance to climb above their London rivals and into the top four.

Mourinho managed Lampard across two separate stints at Stamford Bridge and will hope to assert his authority after the then-Derby County boss knocked his Manchester United team out of the EFL Cup in September 2018.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have endured a sudden run of losses that leaves them in danger of coming unstuck against opponents who have enjoyed a swift rise since parting ways with Mauricio Pochettino.

Here, we assess Opta data to determine what changes Mourinho has made, and whether there could be problems ahead.

 

FINE FINISHING MASKING MOURINHO'S SHORTCOMING?

Part of the Mourinho package that must have appealed to Daniel Levy was the Portuguese's ability to organise a defence and eradicate the vulnerabilities that led to results like the 7-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

The 56-year-old, however, has acted against type in his fourth life as a Premier League boss, releasing the handbrake on a Spurs side that has scored 14 times in five matches under the new regime.

Their return of 2.8 goals per game exceeds the scoring average recorded in each of Pochettino's five full seasons in charge and is double the number managed across the final 12 games he oversaw.

Can it be sustained? Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Harry Kane and company will surely find it difficult to maintain the 58 per cent shooting accuracy that has helped lift the gloom. The closest Spurs came to achieving such sharpness with Pochettino in the manager's seat was the 53 per cent they posted in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Tottenham's number of shots per game has, in fact, dipped significantly since his departure, to 11.8 on average with Mourinho at the helm.

That figure ranks well below the levels set under Pochettino, particularly the 17.6 attempted per 90 minutes in 2016-17 and even the 12.5 that were being unleashed before the managerial change was made this term.

Superficially, the current shot conversion rate of 24 per cent works in Mourinho's favour, but there is a risk of results turning if such clinical finishing reverts to somewhere close to their mean of 11.6 per cent under Pochettino.

 

NO PREOCCUPATION WITH POSSESSION

Unsurprisingly, Tottenham are now seeing less of the ball than they did under Pochettino, a footballer and coach of the Marcelo Bielsa school.

Mourinho has presided over a decline in average possession to 50 per cent; over the course of a full campaign, his predecessor's teams never averaged less then 59 per cent.

Passing accuracy has naturally become a lower priority as this more functional Spurs side looks to get the ball forward quicker in order to better harness Alli's ingenuity and Son Heung-min's speed.

Near their peak, in the 2016-17 campaign that saw them finish second behind Chelsea, Tottenham were completing over 60 more passes per game.

Mourinho would argue that such statistics are irrelevant on matchday, especially one as important as Sunday.

He might, however, have more time for a review of his record in games against the clubs that have employed him in the past.

EDGING HIS EXES

Mourinho has demonstrated a well-documented taste for attention throughout his successful managerial career and he will be under the spotlight when the Blues make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Chelsea have hit a slump of four defeats in five Premier League matches at an inopportune time but should take no real fear from their former boss' record against previous employers.

Mourinho has faced old clubs on 33 occasions and won 18 times, losing nine and drawing the other six.

A win percentage of 55 per cent from those matches could do with improving for a man set to face a club that dismissed him twice.

Chelsea, of course, have appeared buoyant under a much-loved figure who recently said he would never manage Tottenham, and will hope to show that Mourinho's Spurs lack substance.

Diego Maradona wants former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino to take charge of "the biggest team in the world" Boca Juniors.

Pochettino has been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich since he was sacked by Premier League side Tottenham last month.

Maradona – head coach of Argentina's Superliga side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata – nominated Pochettino to return to his homeland and lead Boca, who are looking for a new coach after Gustavo Alfaro stepped down.

After Boca and Argentina great Juan Roman Riquelme returned to the club as vice-president following December's election, Maradona was asked if he would move back to the powerhouse team following two spells.

"I will not go to Boca… because I repeat that I do not agree with those who will manage the club," Maradona told Ole. "The president [Jorge Amor Ameal] was already there and it was a disaster, he surrounded himself with [vice-president Mario Pergolini] who believes that he can handle the club. 

"And Roman... a club is not run within the locker room. It's much harder than stopping the ball, giving a pass or kicking a free-kick.

"Boca have to take a technician to play and feel what Boca is. It's not easy to sit in that chair. The best of all is Maradona [laughs]. 

"But now I will not go, there at some point it happens. But I would like Mauricio Pochettino. You have to call him and convince him to come to lead the biggest team in the world."

Maradona added: " I want to finish in the best way. First I want to save Gymnasia [from relegation], then we'll see."

Boca are second in the Superliga, a point behind leaders Argentinos Juniors, while Gimnasia are 21st in the 24-team division.

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Murmurs about Pep Guardiola's potential departure from Manchester City are not going away.

Recent reports have suggested the successful Catalan could look to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season.

It now appears Guardiola has the power to make that happen.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA'S ESCAPE ROUTE

An exit clause in the contract Guardiola signed last year gives the two-time Premier League winner the chance to leave City at the conclusion of the campaign, reports the Daily Mail.

Guardiola's deal, which he renewed in May 2018, runs through to 2021, but it seems he will have a decision to make when the club's title defence comes to a close.

City have formulated contingency plans, according to the report, and are "known to be admirers" of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Guardiola, 48, has been linked with a return to Bayern Munich but last month said he was "open" to signing another contract extension with City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United missed out on Liverpool-bound Takumi Minamino because the Old Trafford club were unaware of a £7.25million exit clause in the winger's Salzburg contract, says the Mirror.

- Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund want to keep Jadon Sancho in January but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are confident of pushing through a transfer for the England international, claims the Mirror.

- Inter are monitoring Argentine attacking midfielder Rodrigo De Paul but are not prepared to meet Udinese's €35m asking price, according to CalcioMercato.

- Carlo Ancelotti is set to fly to London for talks with Everton as the managerless Merseysiders look to beat Arsenal to the ex-Napoli boss, says the Sun.

- Ivan Rakitic appears set to stay at Barcelona after all. The midfielder wants to continue at Camp Nou after breaking back into the starting XI over the past four matches, reports Marca.

Harry Kane has no limits to what he can do and is still yet to reach his peak, according to former Tottenham team-mate Roberto Soldado.

Soldado joined Spurs from Valencia in 2013 but the striker – a regular scorer in LaLiga – found life tough in England, managing just seven goals in 52 league appearances over the course of two seasons before leaving for Villarreal.

However, Soldado believes he was not helped by the emergence of Kane, who quickly impressed his fellow frontman during their time working together in England.

"I always say that if there is one period of my career I'm not happy with, it's my time at Tottenham," Soldado, now at Granada, said in an interview with The Guardian.

"I also had Harry Kane's boom to contend with, I understood perfectly because you could see it from the start.

"I saw his level in training and it was amazing. I don't think there's a limit to what he can do; we still haven't seen the best of Harry Kane.

"When we did shooting drills… pfff. With both feet, he was prolific. He plays so well back to goal, gives assists, is intelligent, thinks quicker than before.

"Maybe he had struggled this season because the team wasn't having the best time, but he's continually improving."

Soldado came through the ranks at Real Madrid and believes Kane would fit right in at the Spanish club, adding: "I'd like to see it."

The 34-year-old has watched from afar as Tottenham have struggled this season, leading to the departure of Mauricio Pochettino.

Jose Mourinho has since taken charge, with Soldado confident the Portuguese will "get them competing" after a sticky start.

"I don't know [what went wrong for Pochettino]," Soldado said on the current situation. "I still talk to Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen, but about personal stuff. You could see it wasn't working. 

"[Mauricio] Pochettino had a very clear idea; he worked us very hard tactically and physically, which I think we needed after Tim Sherwood. From the start, he connected with the dressing room and every year it got better.

"The level Pochettino got from the players was higher than anyone could have expected. [But] they lost consistency and maybe Spurs needed a change.

"Now one of the best coaches has arrived and he’ll get them competing. Kane will always be grateful to Pochettino, I’m sure: his big change came with him. But he’ll trust José Mourinho because he’s a great coach."

Mauricio Pochettino has opened the door for a quick return to management following his recent exit from Tottenham, saying he is open to listening to any offers put before him.

The 47-year-old was sacked by the Premier League club on November 19 after a difficult start to the season, with Jose Mourinho brought in as his replacement.

Pochettino returned to his native Argentina to unwind but is ready to step back into work should the right opportunity present itself.

"There are a lot of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on," he told Fox Sports Argentina.

"For the time being, the most important thing is for me to clear my head after five-and-a-half incredible seasons with Tottenham. 

"My aim is to seek the ability to rebuild myself and get my self-motivation back.

"It is my intention to return to manage in Europe. It is hard for me to imagine a project in Argentina. However, for the sake of my family, I would not refuse to work over here.

"But now I need to be calm for a few days and see what happens. I haven't had a lot of time to digest what has happened with me.

"My first decision was to come back to Argentina, return to my home and see family and friends. My best decision was to come to Argentina to switch off for 10 days.

"But I expect to return to Europe to make decisions on my future. At my age I don't need a lot of time to recover. I am open to listen to projects put before me."

Arsenal are on the lookout for a new boss following the dismissal of Unai Emery last week, while German champions Bayern Munich are without a permanent head coach.

Manchester United are also rumoured to be long-term admirers of Pochettino, who guided Tottenham to top-four finishes in four of his five full seasons in charge, as well as their first Champions League final in 2018-19.

In August 2018, Mauricio Pochettino guided Tottenham to a 3-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In hindsight, it was a defeat that appeared to signal the beginning of the end for Mourinho at United, with the Portuguese coach sacked four months later, replaced – initially on a temporary basis – by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pochettino was heavily linked with the United hot seat, but Solskjaer's impressive run earned him the job permanently. But while Spurs went on to reach a Champions League final, the Red Devils' form dropped off dramatically.

Now, 16 months on from that clash at Old Trafford, Mourinho returns to his former stomping ground for the first time since his December 2018 sacking, having taken over from Pochettino at Spurs – who dismissed the former Argentina international following a poor start to 2019-20.

Two 3-2 wins on the bounce in the league, either side of a 4-2 comeback victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League, have seen Tottenham climb up to fifth place, two points above United, who could only draw with Aston Villa on Sunday.

Can Mourinho show his old side just what they are missing, or will Solskjaer prove his credentials in a match over which the spectre of Pochettino could loom large.

 

THE 'SPECIAL ONE' RETURNS

Glory in the EFL Cup and Europa League made Mourinho's first year in charge of United a successful one, though those were the only major trophies he won during his stint in Manchester.

After finishing second – well behind neighbours Manchester City – in Mourinho's sophomore year, United's form tailed off at the start of the former Chelsea boss' final campaign in charge.

Their home defeat to Tottenham followed on from a loss at Brighton and Hove Albion, while they also went down to both West Ham and City as they suffered four defeats from their opening 12 matches.

A run of three successive draws against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Arsenal paved the way for a 3-1 reverse at Liverpool to result in Mourinho's departure.

But after almost a year out of management, he was handed a way back into the big time with Spurs, who seem rejuvenated – albeit still with some glaring weaknesses – and Mourinho is now aiming to become just the third manager to win a Premier League away game at Old Trafford with two different clubs.

United, on the other hand, have managed just four league victories this season and head into Wednesday's encounter without a victory in three matches across all competitions.

In fact, since Solskjaer was appointed on a permanent basis on March 28, United have claimed all three points in just six Premier League games.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: MARCUS RASHFORD V HARRY KANE

One shining light for United in recent weeks has been the form of Marcus Rashford, who seems to have taken up the mantle of leading the Red Devils' youthful attack.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane's goals were not enough to save Pochettino's job, but the England captain is still as reliable as ever when presented with a chance.

Both players are on seven league goals for the season, with Rashford's 14 appearances one more than Kane.

Rashford has also played slightly more than Kane in terms of minutes, racking up 1,219 compared to the Tottenham striker's 1,165.

Kane is proving more efficient, with the 26-year-old scoring his seven goals from a total of 36 shots, resulting in a conversion rate of 19.44 per cent, while Rashford's rate stands at 16.67 per cent.

Not much separates the pair in terms of goal frequency – Kane edging this one with a strike every 166 minutes, compared to Rashford's 174.

However, Kane is the clear winner when it comes to expected goals. By this metric, Rashford (8.66) should be on at least eight goals for the campaign, while his opposite number at Spurs has only been expected to score five goals from the chances he has had this term.

FORM GUIDE

Pochettino managed two draws in his final matches in charge of Spurs, meaning Mourinho's side are now unbeaten in four league games.

Should Tottenham win, Mourinho will become their first manager to win his first three top-flight matches in charge. 

Dele Alli seems to have recaptured his best form, scoring twice and providing an assist in the two Premier League matches since Mourinho's arrival – as many as he had in his final 12 appearances under Pochettino.

United's haul of 18 points from their opening 14 Premier League matches this season means the Red Devils have endured their worst start to a domestic season since the 1988-89 campaign, when they also had 18 points and went on to finish 11th.

Both United and Tottenham are equal in one sense, however, with both having dropped 12 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.

HISTORY SAYS…

United's hopes will not be boosted by the fact they have lost three of their past seven home league meetings against Spurs, after losing only two of their previous 36 at Old Trafford.

However, Tottenham have lost more Premier League games to United than against any other side, though Mourinho can take solace in knowing the away team won in both top-flight meetings last season.

Kieran Trippier expects Mauricio Pochettino to bounce back from his Tottenham sacking and prove a success wherever he goes.

The Premier League side dismissed their long-serving manager this month and immediately replaced him with Jose Mourinho.

Pochettino spent just over five seasons in charge and led the club to a maiden Champions League final in June.

Arsenal and Bayern Munich have since been linked with the Argentinian and former Spurs defender Trippier is certain his old boss will make the most of his next job.

He told The Athletic: "I've got a lot of mates at Tottenham – players and staff. It wasn't nice to see what they went through, not getting the results they wanted. It wasn't nice to see them getting criticised.

"Now a new manager has come in and hopefully they'll get the results they want and push further up the table, where they deserve to be, but everyone knows how good [Pochettino] is as a manager.

"For sure he will be successful wherever he goes in the future.

"Obviously it was the chairman's decision to let the manager go. That's football. It happens. Players go, managers go."

Trippier's endorsement of Pochettino follows an awkward separation between player and manager in July.

The England international left for LaLiga side Atletico Madrid after failing to gain reassurances over his future in north London.

Asked if he had reached out to Pochettino, Trippier replied: "Yes, I sent him a message to tell him how much I appreciate everything he has done for me.

"I couldn't not text him. I'm not that type of person. He gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level.

"I've come on a long journey in my career and he was a big, big part of that, so I thanked him for everything he has done for me."

The right-back added: "He was a big reason why I got called up to the England squad because he was the one who gave me the opportunity to show I could play at the highest level.

"I've got full respect for him and for what he did to help me get to where I am now."

Jose Mourinho believes it is impossible for managers to match the 20-year dynasties that Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger achieved, with Premier League bosses now forced to "fight for our job every day".

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Mourinho was appointed Tottenham head coach last week after Mauricio Pochettino was sacked just six months on from guiding Spurs to the Champions League final.

Another high-profile departure followed on Friday as Unai Emery, Wenger's replacement, lost his job at Arsenal after 18 months at the helm.

Manchester United have similarly struggled to fill the void left by Ferguson, who reigned for fully 27 years at Old Trafford, with Mourinho acknowledging job security rarely lasts longer than a day now at top clubs.

"Twenty years in a club? I don't think it's possible," he told reporters.

"Modern life, new technologies, social media - I think everything has an influence, even people's mentality, faster relations, getting tired easily, so many things that are changing.

"Not [just] football but [these things] are changing the world and the perception of things that I think Wenger was the last 'man/one'. It's a bad thing for us.

"We have to adapt and we have to try to prove that we are the man for the job. We have to fight for our job every day.

"I think the times where people know the job is going to be mine for X amount of years [are gone]. You have to fight for your job every day. Not just with the football results but with everything you do in the club.

"I think it's normal. It happens in society in so many areas. I can imagine even yourself in your newspaper and your radio you have to not just sleep on what you did previously.

"I think you have to show every day you have that you are the guy for the job. I think it's just life."

But Mourinho said he does not go into new jobs worrying about how long his tenure will last.

"I don't think about that," he said. "I think about trying to show I am the man for the job every day."

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