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Pochettino hails ‘fantastic’ Ten Hag, says there is no good time to face Manchester United

Mauricio Pochettino described Erik ten Hag as a “fantastic” coach and warned there is no good time to face Manchester United, as his Chelsea team prepare to visit Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Ten Hag has faced stern criticism in recent days, with United seventh in the Premier League table and on the brink of a humiliating UEFA Champions League group-stage exit in their second campaign under the Dutchman.

The former Ajax boss was forced to angrily deny reports of unrest in United’s squad at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, with the club banning several journalists from attending after Sky Sports and other publications claimed up to half of the Red Devils’ players did not support Ten Hag.

Read our other Manchester United news stories here:
Manchester United ban journalists over Erik ten Hag reports
Manchester United ‘not where we want to be’, accepts captain Fernandes
‘We are together’ – Erik ten Hag slams reports of Manchester United unrest

Chelsea could move within two points of United with a victory over their old rivals on Wednesday, having experienced something of an upturn after their own underwhelming start to 2023-24.

Pochettino, however, is wary of the threat the Red Devils will pose.

Asked about Ten Hag on Tuesday, Pochettino said: “He’s a fantastic coach. We faced each other when I was with Tottenham in the semi-finals of the Champions League [in 2018-19], when he was at Ajax.

“Everyone was talking about Ajax and him then. It is good to see him after four years because we have not played each other since.

“I think we are all on a similar level with different situations, so I don’t say it is a good moment to go there.

“We are facing a team that is going to be tough because they want to win and we want to keep our momentum, to build and be high in the table. It’s important for us to be in a different position.”

Asked whether he had any advice for the under-fire Dutchman, Pochettino said: “It’s not my duty. I need to be focused because we have plenty of things to deal with here.

“I am very respectful, I don’t want to talk about another club.”

During his tenures with both Spurs and Paris Saint-Germain, Pochettino was repeatedly linked with the Old Trafford hot seat, which has acquired a reputation as something of a poisoned chalice in recent years.

However, the Argentine was unwilling to be drawn on whether he was glad to have avoided the role, saying: “You try to make me talk too much and make a mistake!

“We need to be respectful about another club. I am not the person to talk to about other clubs.

“I am happy here, with this project. We are building something here and we are working really hard.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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