Mauricio Pochettino will always be welcome at Tottenham, according to his successor Jose Mourinho.
Pochettino was sacked after five-and-a-half years at the helm on Tuesday, with last season’s Champions League finalists moving quickly to appoint former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss Mourinho as head coach.
The 56-year-old faced his first news conference in charge of Spurs on Thursday and began by speaking warmly of Pochettino, who remains widely revered by the club’s fanbase despite a dismal start to the current campaign that leaves them languishing 14th in the Premier League.
“I’ve been smiling for two days [but] first of all I do it with a bit of sadness [because] I have to speak about Mauricio,” Mourinho said.
“I have to congratulate him on the incredible job he did. I share with you what we shared inside.
“This club will always be his home; this training ground is his training ground. He is always welcome here.
“Tomorrow is another day. He will find happiness soon. He will give everything like he did at this club. He will leave with sadness, with the feeling that he did great work. It is what everyone at the club felt.”
1.89 – Jose Mourinho’s points per game ratio at Manchester United (1.89) was exactly the same as Mauricio Pochettino’s at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League (1.89). Replacement. pic.twitter.com/HUrTkXf3ue
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 20, 2019
A turbulent week has meant a quick turnaround for Mourinho, who will lead Spurs for the first time at West Ham on Saturday.
He has been out of management for almost a year after being sacked by Manchester United last December but insists he is ready for the challenge.
“I had a feeling I was going to get a club mid-season,” he said. “I knew I would be in a situation where I would get only one or two days before my first game.
“I cannot come here and think it is about myself. It is about the players and going from a base of stability.
“I thought about it during these months because I thought I might get a job mid-season and I might have a game two days later.
“We have our own ways but they were in the hands of a good manager and coaching staff here.”
Club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and centre-back Jan Vertonghen face fitness tests on respective groin and hamstring complaints, while Mourinho will be without winger Erik Lamela (hamstring) and goalkeeping duo Michel Vorm (calf) and Hugo Lloris (elbow) at London Stadium.