Mauricio Pochettino has turned down a number of job offers from elsewhere during his five years at the Tottenham helm, but insists his commitment to the club has never wavered.
Pochettino’s success in leading Spurs to the top of the English game, spending a fraction of what other clubs have spent, has seen him coveted for some top jobs, both in England and abroad.
Chairman Daniel Levy rejected an approach from Real Madrid last summer while Chelsea and most recently Manchester United also put him at the top of their shortlist.
Pochettino’s future has come into the spotlight again this week amid speculation he is planning on walking away from Spurs after this weekend’s north London derby against Arsenal whatever the result.
The Argentinian, who is one year into a fresh five-year contract, was baffled by the “stupidity” of the rumour and reiterated his contentment at being at Spurs.
Asked whether he had ever been tempted by the “plenty” of offers to leave Spurs, he replied: “No. No because last year when I signed the contract here it was because I wanted to help the club to finish the stadium, to move into the stadium.
“That was my personal commitment with Daniel. In this moment one year ago it would have been easy to say, ‘OK, we’ve been here four years, let’s find another challenge and move on’, because always people at Tottenham will remember us very nicely.
“But we showed our commitment with the club and personally with Daniel because we knew it was going to be a difficult summer, impossible to sign players, impossible to move players and we had to keep the same squad while trying to deliver the job.
“(There have been) plenty. Plenty in five years and Daniel knows. From everywhere.
“Daniel knows very well how our commitment with the club is. It’s massive, it’s more than what is normal.
“But it’s normal that different managers for sure, if you ask (Pep) Guardiola, if you ask (Jurgen) Klopp, if you so ask the best managers…For sure Guardiola is working in City and receives a call from a different club.
“Or like Klopp or like a different manager. It does not make it special to me.”
Pochettino has cut a frustrated figure this season, regularly distancing himself from issues at the club and unhappy at how his squad has been affected by the late closure of the European transfer window.
He held clear-the-air talks with chairman Levy on Thursday night and is ready to move on and attack the new season.
“It was a very good exercise to have better communication, to make clear the things,” he said of his dinner with Levy, his assistant Jesus Perez and a fourth unnamed club official.
“Always the intention was to help the club. The intention in my posture or my speech or my decision was always to try to make the best for the club.
“There were no personal intentions. It was always trying to help the club, help the team, that is our principle objective and it was good to listen from Daniel that we are on the same page, that is the most important.
“But now we need to try to push again. That is why we need to be on the same page – the club, Daniel and us in our vision and plans for the future.
“I only tried to explain the situation, it is because I care about the club and Daniel and our personal relationship. It’s not because I am a coach and if I am here I am here and if we don’t I get sacked and go home.
“The fact I have a four-year contract, or more is not the point.
“I am very happy to be here, very proud.
“Five years ago we signed for and started a project at a very different club – and now we are one of the best clubs in the world.
“We have played in the final of the Champions League and now the aim is to remain competitive for the future.”
Pep Guardiola wants to see “shy” Phil Foden knocking down his door and demanding more playing time with Manchester City.
Guardiola called the midfielder the “most talented player” he had worked with during pre-season, but the 19-year-old is yet to start a game this season and has made only two late substitute appearances ahead of Saturday’s match against Brighton.
Guardiola was adamant that will soon change as European and cup games pile up for City after the international break, but he would have no objection to seeing Foden voice frustration over his time on the bench.
“He is a shy guy,” Guardiola said. “I would like him to talk more to me, but all the time I go to him and speak to him.
“He still looks at me with a little too much respect, and after two or three seasons it’s not necessary.”
Guardiola said he expects and wants to hear from his players when they are not getting regular starts, whether it be a teenager like Foden or a senior member of the squad like Fernandinho.
“I like it, I will argue,” he said. “Sometimes I tell them, ‘The reason is because I preferred your mate. I preferred the other one’. With this argument they cannot say anything.”
And the former Barcelona and Bayern coach admitted he can sometimes be persuaded to change his mind by a player.
“Yes, it’s happened,” he said. “Players come before the game and ‘I’m ready to play, I want to play’ and I say, ‘Yes’.
“But I like it when players come and say, ‘I want to play’.”
Foden’s problem is that, in order to get in to City’s midfield, he must dislodge the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan.
“That is the reality in a team that achieved four titles last season,” Guardiola said. “If you don’t have this squad you can’t achieve four titles. Impossible.
“So they have to fight and be patient and don’t complain too much, don’t blame too much, because the time is coming.
“They have to be prepared because I saw today the schedule with all the fixed plan of the Champions League, away, home, and I said, ‘Wow, how many games do we have?’
“Everyone is going to have minutes.”
Guardiola also backed Alexis Sanchez to get his career back on track in Italy after joining Inter Milan on loan from rivals United.
Guardiola had tried to bring the Chile international to the Etihad Stadium but, after United pipped City to his signature, watched on as Sanchez endured a frustrating spell at
Old Trafford in which the once-prolific forward managed only five goals in 45 appearances, often relegated to the bench.
“I have a special affection for him as a player, of course, but especially as a human being,” said Guardiola, who worked with Sanchez at Barca. “He’s an incredible, humble guy and a fighter.
“Now he decides to move to Italy with one of the greatest teams in Europe with Inter right now, with an incredible manager in Antonio Conte and I’m pretty sure they are going to do well.”
Guardiola said he has never given a moment’s thought to how things might have been different had Sanchez joined City instead, but said his failure at United was not all his own fault.
“Football players don’t depend on one player,” he said. “You judge it as a failure for just Alexis, but there are many reasons.
“One player might come here with me and not play one minute, it is not for him. But the quality is there, it is always there.
“They don’t play alone, it is not tennis, it is not golf. You play with 10 players against one system of the opponents. Many, many things are involved in one player performing well in the team.”
Italy coach Roberto Mancini has dropped Moise Kean and Nicolo Zaniolo from his squad picked on Friday to face Armenia and Finland in Euro 2020 qualifying, punishing the starlets for their behaviour during the Under-21 European Championships.
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, 35, who had been named in the squad, was later ruled out as he will undergo surgery after tearing a ligament in his right knee during training with the Serie A champions on Friday.
Mancini has called up Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi in place of 103-times capped Chiellini.
Roma’s exciting midfielder Zaniolo, 20, and Everton’s new 19-year-old signing Kean were selected by Mancini last season after bursting onto the scene with impressive displays in Serie A.
However they were dropped for Italy’s last group game during the summer’s Under-21 tournament, held in their home country, after arriving late for a video session and, as predicted by Italian media, Mancini has decided to extend the punishment to the upcoming senior matches.
The Azzurri, three points clear at top of Group J after winning all four of their matches so far, travel to Armenia on Thursday before taking on second-placed Finland away three days later.
Full-back Luca Pellegrini, loaned to Cagliari after being bought by Juventus from Roma this summer, is the only new face in the squad.
Meanwhile Mario Balotelli, newly of hometown team Brescia, has not been selected as he serves a four-match suspension for a red card he picked up with Marseille at the end of last season.