Mauricio Pochettino. Picture: EPA/NIGEL RODDIS
Mauricio Pochettino. Picture: EPA/NIGEL RODDIS

The spotlight is on Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho to deliver a positive response to a week of negative publicity when faced on Monday with an opposite number who has adopted a very different attitude to similar off-field frustrations.

Mourinho appears at odds with the club’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, and key players such as Paul Pogba. Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino has kept Tottenham on track to travel north with a 100% record in the Premier League. The Argentinian is likely to have little sympathy for Mourinho’s complaints about not being backed enough by Woodward in the transfer market after spending more than £70m in the off season on Brazilian international Fred and teenager Diogo Dalot.

Tottenham became the first Premier League side since the introduction of the summer transfer window to fail to sign a single player despite Pochettino delivering a third season of Champions League football on a significantly smaller budget than his competitors.

He has also had to cope with delays to the club’s new stadium, so Spurs will play at least their first four games of the season at Wembley.

Unlike Mourinho’s consistent outbursts against his superiors and expensively assembled squad, Pochettino’s pleas for a united front have so far been rewarded with victories over Newcastle and Fulham.

How Woodward may now regret not testing Tottenham’s resolve by trying to poach him instead of hiring the former Chelsea boss two years ago.

Speculation that a move to Manchester was in the pipeline for Pochettino before Mourinho’s arrival was heightened when legendary former United boss Alex Ferguson met the Spurs manager for lunch in March 2016.

Pochettino described the meeting as a "dream come true" but now seems to have tied himself to the project of converting the abundant talent in Spurs’ young squad into trophies at the new White Hart Lane after penning a five-year contract extension in May.

For all the progress made by Spurs in the past four years under Pochettino, success at Old Trafford has alluded them.

Tottenham have lost all four of their past visits there without even scoring a goal.

"That’s not perception. It’s reality. We lost four games, we didn’t score a goal, we didn’t win a point," said Pochettino.

"There are many negative things but you need to believe and I believe more than ever that we can win. We’re winners." That positivity contrasts sharply with the dark clouds lingering over the red half of Manchester.

Disastrous defending in defeat at Brighton last weekend illustrated why Mourinho demanded more money in the transfer market to improve his central defensive options.

Yet it was two centrebacks bought during his tenure, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, who were at fault.

A sullen Mourinho tried to duck a media inquisition by turning up 30 minutes early and giving monosyllabic answers in a four-minute long prematch media conference on Friday.

However, there will be no hiding place if he fails to prevent United falling six points behind bitter rivals Liverpool and Tottenham just three games into what is characteristically a troublesome third season in charge for Mourinho.

AFP