Mauricio Pochettino is happy Southampton have continued their progression since his departure and the Tottenham manager is unconcerned at the prospect of his new club finishing below his former employers.
Pochettino on Saturday returns to St Mary’s for the first time since being appointed Spurs boss last summer in a move many perceived to be a step up.
The Argentinian’s departure was part of a wide scale exodus which left his successor Ronald Koeman with a rebuilding job which the Dutchman has performed with aplomb.
Saints enter this weekend’s fixtures one point behind sixth-placed Spurs, who are targeting a Champions League return in the near future.
“When you take that decision or the club take that decision you need to look and move forward,” Pochettino said.
“This is a different project and one season of transition. I have a four year contract left and we try to build a good team and a strong team to try and fight for the top four next season.
“I am happy that Southampton is on the top. I love the people in Southampton and always wish the best.”
Asked if Spurs should expect to finish above Saints, Pochettino called on careful scrutiny of the situation as he moulds his new team.
“Southampton spent a lot of money and signed very good players,” he said.
“The investment was nearly B#80m. It’s a massive difference with us this season.”
Pochettino, who will assess the fitness of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (knee) prior to kick off and is without right-back Kyle Walker (foot), reflected on his arrival at St Mary’s and the impact he made in a short time.
“It was tough because when we arrived at Southampton the people loved Nigel Adkins and it was difficult,” he added.
“It wasn’t my fault to arrive at Southampton because the president offered the job.
“We changed a lot of things and we did a fantastic job because the players were fantastic, the philosophy of the club was very good.”
Pochettino is now developing a philosophy at White Hart Lane, but knows Spurs must think differently in recruitment and other matters to break into the coveted top four and qualify for the Champions League.
“Tottenham have great potential to fight for the top four,” he said.
“Maybe it’s not easy to fight against Manchester City or Manchester United or Chelsea because they have behind them a big financial potential and every year they spend a lot of money and sign real players, who can perform right away.
“Maybe our project needs to be different. We need to create our own project, our own philosophy and we need to deliver it.
“Tottenham is different to other clubs. Better or worse, I don’t know but we need to create our own philosophy and to be special, because we are Tottenham.
“We need to clever and consistent and we need to fight for that.
“It’s a good opportunity now. It’s for that (reason) that I told you this season was one for transition because we need to settle our philosophy our own way to start to deliver next season.
“If you are strong, you have clear ideas and you are consistent and you work very hard, I think you can achieve everything but you need to be consistent and work hard.”
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