Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino says he has no advice for Erik ten Hag, feeling it would be wrong of him to offer advice on how to deal with the egos in the Manchester United dressing room.
Pochettino has managed the game’s biggest names, from Lionel Messi to Neymar to Kylian Mbappe. Yet amid rumours of Ten Hag struggling to handle United’s squad, Chelsea’s manager did not want to get involved ahead of their meeting at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
‘No, no, no,’ Pochettino said as Chelsea travel to United. ‘I am only a coach that tries to do my best. We are no-one to give advice to my colleagues. It’s not my duty to talk about what’s going on in another place. I am very respectful. I need to be respectful about another club. I am not the person to talk about what is going on in other clubs.’
Christopher Nkunku will be among 10 players unavailable for Chelsea on Wednesday, with Conor Gallagher suspended after his red card against Brighton.
Asked if this was a good time to face United, Pochettino added: ‘It is an amazing place (Old Trafford). I wouldn’t say it is a good moment to go there. We’re going to face a team that’s going to be tough because they want to win. We need to go there and win.
‘I am focusing on my club, my focus is here. Little by little, step by step, we are building something that we believe is going to be amazing for the future of the club. Never would I compare with another club, because it is not fair.’
On Ten Hag, Pochettino added: ‘He is a fantastic coach. We faced when I was at Tottenham, the semi-final in the Champions League against Ajax. He is a fantastic coach, a great manager.
This will be Pochettino’s first meeting with Ten Hag since that famous 3-2 win for Spurs when they sealed their spot in the 2019 Champions League final.
Pochettino also refused to divulge when asked if he was glad he took over at Chelsea instead of United – having been in the running for the job before Erik ten Hag took over in 2022.
‘I’m not going to talk [about that] You laugh but you try to make me talk too much, I don’t want to make a mistake. I am not the person to talk what is going on at different clubs. I am happy here in this project. We are dealing with many situations we need to improve also.
‘We are building something here and 200% focused on evolving and developing the project we want together. That is my focus to try and deliver the job.’
Ten Hag, meanwhile, insisted he retained the backing of his players despite fears of a mutiny in the United camp.
‘Oh yes, I’m sure,’ he said. ‘But you can see, for instance, the comeback against Brentford, the Burnley game, the Fulham game, so every time the team is there, showed great character.
‘Great determination, resilient, so yeah, we are together. And you can see you can’t play such great football what we did lately if there is no unity.’