Spurs' Mauricio Pochettino eyes long stay at 'most popular club in London'
Mauricio Pochettino has said he dreams of coaching Argentina one day but for now he is focused on success with Tottenham Hotspur, describing the Premier League club to Cadena SER as "the most popular in London" and on the same level as Manchester United and Liverpool historically.
Pochettino pledged his future to Tottenham by signing a new contract until June 2021 earlier this year and is committed to seeing that through.
"I would love to be here for as long as possible because it's a club with history, a club that is the most popular in London, more than Arsenal and Chelsea," he said. "I'm delighted here.
"The professional respect that this country gives you is something to take into account. You feel valued.
"Tottenham is a historic club at the same level as Manchester United and Liverpool.
"We are recreating that winning culture and not to feel inferior to the rest, regardless of the fact that other clubs might be more talented than us.
"Three years ago when I started this project, the idea was to reduce the difference between us and the top four. We are ahead of our project."
Pochettino says his team can be proud of its achievements so far.
"When you analyse the last two seasons, Tottenham has been the most consistent team in the Premier League," he said. "We have achieved more points than any other team the last two seasons.
"It's true that Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have a different structure and philosophy to what Tottenham is looking for right now.
"It's true that the investment that they make is two or three times more than perhaps what Tottenham spends.
"But that is the great challenge and the beauty of Tottenham's project.
"When [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy called me three years ago, it really got me excited to listen to him and enter a project that not only focused on winning but on leaving a legacy.
"In my opinion, we have the best training facilities in England.
"We have a stadium project that in a year will be ready and will be the best in London and perhaps in England. In the coming years, Tottenham will do very well."
Spurs, who finished third in the Premier League last season, are currently second and closed the gap on leaders Chelsea to four points with a 4-0 home triumph over Bournemouth last weekend.
They are also in contention to win the FA Cup and face Chelsea at Wembley in the semifinal this weekend.
"We have reached the last stretch of the competition and we are alive in the two most important competitions in England, the FA Cup and the Premier League," he said. "I'm happy because we have a great challenge ahead of us, Saturday's semifinal against one of the most in-form teams in Europe.
"To be four points adrift after Chelsea's defeat at Manchester United opens up the door for us to win a title.
"We know it's going to be very tough and complicated. It's always difficult to lift titles.
"We are going through a good spell and we are going to try. We hope we can reach the final."
Tottenham are on an eight-match winning streak in all competitions heading into Saturday's encounter.
"It's going to be a mental test, with Chelsea going into the game after a defeat and we on the back of a win," Pochettino said. "They have more players that have experience in playing in this type of game.
"But our desire and hunger to win something this season could level the tie.
"We have played against them twice this season. We lost 2-1 at Chelsea earlier this season and then in January we won [2-0] at White Hart Lane.
"It's a team that has great individual talent. It's a team that is athletic because [Chelsea coach Antonio] Conte already showed at Juventus that he wants his teams to be dynamic, physical, aggressive.
"Chelsea didn't start playing like this but after their defeat at Arsenal [3-0 on Sept. 26], they changed their way of playing and went on to play with a 3-4-3 formation which allowed them to start winning games.
"They have maintained that philosophy and way of playing."
Pochettino is looking forward to facing Conte, a friend, again.
"You can see Conte's temperament and character when you watch him on the sidelines," he said. "He transmits that to his team.
"I have great respect and fondness for Conte. When he was Italy coach, he came to visit me in my first year at Tottenham. We spoke for five or six hours about football. We have had a very good relationship since."
Pochettino, who was reportedly a contender for the national team coaching position before Edgardo Bauza was appointed last summer, was again linked with the job when the Argentina Football Association (AFA) dismissed Bauza earlier this month.
When asked if the AFA had ever contacted him for the role, Pochettino said: "No, never. I have not received a call.
"I always say that one of the places I want to coach is my national team, the Argentina squad. I think every coach dreams of managing his national team and it's a dream for me.
"But in the long-term future, not short-term. Today it would not be viable."
Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli confirmed on Thursday that the AFA want him to coach the national team. Asked if compatriot Sampaoli, who steered Chile to the 2015 Copa America after beating Argentina in the final, is the ideal candidate to coach the Albiceleste, Pochettino said: "It's difficult to judge colleagues. He did well with Chile.
"I trust that AFA will make the right decision and that the national team will qualify for the World Cup and achieve something we all want which is to win the competition, especially after losing three finals."
Pochettino also ruled out the Barcelona coaching position due to his past at Espanyol.
He played a total of eight seasons for Espanyol, who are based in Barcelona, and coached the team from 2009 until 2012. His next position was at Southampton, whom he joined in January of 2013 and coached for 15 months.
Pochettino was reportedly a candidate to replace Luis Enrique, who will step down at the end of this season.
"Not everything in football goes," Pochettino said. "It's not to disrespect Barcelona but it would be impossible for me to coach them.
"I owe a lot to Espanyol, having played for them and coached them. I have values and I think it would be treason not only to others but to myself to coach a team that is considered our enemy."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.