I love Mourinho! Pochettino grateful for Spurs' title backing

Jose Mourinho's suggestion that Tottenham is a title challenger - along with Manchester City's "B team" - amused Mauricio Pochettino.

Mauricio Pochettino (L) with Jose Mourinho   -  Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino was delighted to hear Jose Mourinho thinks Tottenham is Premier League title challenger - even if he also backed Manchester City's "B team".

Former Manchester United and Chelsea boss Mourinho stated last week that reigning champion City can only realistically be stopped by Liverpool or Spurs this season.

He even suggested City's second-string XI would be strong enough to contest for the Premier League, such is the quality in Pep Guardiola's squad.

The comments amused Pochettino ahead of Spurs' trip to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, although he was nonetheless grateful to hear Mourinho has such a high opinion of his players.

"I love Mou! He's so clever, he is so sarcastic sometimes. That's why he's one of the best managers in the world. I respect his opinion," Pochettino told a news conference.

"Of course, [I'm] grateful because a manager like Mourinho believing we have the potential to be a contender, I think it's important. We have our faith and our belief in us, but that compliment helps us to believe a little bit more, of course."

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Spurs knocked City out of the Champions League quarterfinals last season on away goals after a dramatic second leg saw VAR rule out a potential winner from Raheem Sterling.

However, Pochettino's men finished 27 points behind City in the Premier League table, a gap the former Southampton boss feels is important to bridge.

 

"We are going to fight again this season against ourselves to try to improve our balance," he said.

"If we analyse the last five years, we always improve every season in different things but, in the Premier League, I think we decrease in our performance or in the points we got.

"That is our challenge: to improve ourselves, to improve our numbers in the Premier League. Of course, in Europe we have improved and become more competitive and got to the final of the Champions League.

"In the Premier League we decrease and that is the point today: that we want to improve and to try to reduce the distance to City and Liverpool, who were the two best teams in the Premier League [in 2018-19]."