Sunday 23 July 2017

Pochettino praises Levy's 'sensitive' side as Spurs chase dream

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Getty Images
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Getty Images

Matt Law

Mauricio Pochettino may struggle to convince those outside White Hart Lane that Daniel Levy is actually the shy, sensitive type, but the Argentinian is adamant that there is more to Tottenham Hotspur's chairman than his silent assassin persona.

Before the Premier League predators who are eyeing moves for Tottenham's players get too excited, however, Pochettino also stressed that football's toughest negotiator had not turned soft.

Whether or not Spurs win the Premier League title, Levy will again need to be at his wily best to deal with interest in the club's stars, agents seeking big pay days and clubs demanding fortunes for transfer targets.

Manchester City and Manchester United are lining up bids for Kyle Walker and Eric Dier respectively, while contract talks with Toby Alderweireld are dragging on and Crystal Palace are ready to offer Wilfried Zaha a £110,000-a-week contract to keep him away from White Hart Lane.

Ahead of tonight's game against West Ham United, where a victory would put Tottenham one point behind leaders Chelsea, Pochettino even claimed that his club were the "trending champions for rumours".

The Tottenham manager reiterated that Walker and Dier would leave only if Spurs decided to sell, and was pleased to confirm that the public perception of Levy was, in part, correct.

"The perception is real," said Pochettino. "He is so tough. He is hard. He is a chairman and it's not easy to manage this size of club. If you are a soft person, it would be so difficult to manage. So difficult to succeed."

While rival chairmen and chief executives are faced with the hard man, Pochettino sees another side to Levy - the side that gives him confidence that Tottenham can reach the "last level" even if they cannot catch Chelsea over the final four games.

"We spend a lot of time talking," said Pochettino. "We spend time together.

"I am happy to see another side to him. Daniel is very human, he is sensitive. He is so clever. He is funny, too. It's true. It's not a rumour; it's my reality.

"He's so shy and he doesn't like too much to appear in the media. He's been at Tottenham for 16 years and it's his decision how he does things.

"The perception is normal, but when you see the other side, he's a very human person."

Asked how Levy reacted to Tottenham's collapse last season, Pochettino added: "His reaction was so supportive. It was very good.

"And when the people behave in this way, it's always important to recognise it. It's easy for him to blame me or the team, but he was very supportive.

"I was so upset and he gave me a few days, no messages, no calls and then he came, face-to-face and we spoke. He said to me: 'I know very well that you are so upset and that is why I don't want to disturb you. But now we can speak because now, after two days, we are a little more relaxed.' It was good."

Pochettino hinted that he and Levy might be prepared to let right-back Walker leave Tottenham this summer as part of the changes they are plotting to ensure the club continue to progress.

"Every season you need to make some changes for different reasons," said Pochettino. "Maybe because we change the ideas in our mind or we are looking to improve, or different things that happen." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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