Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has tipped Kelvin Davis, who played for him at Southampton, to have a bright future in management.
Spurs face struggling Southampton — with former goalkeeper Davis in caretaker charge following the sacking of Mark Hughes — at Wembley on Wednesday, and Pochettino said he was looking forward to seeing him.
“He was our player, my first captain,” he told a news conference. “He was a great personality, a great character, a great man, and it’s so nice to face him tomorrow.
“It’s a difficult situation for us both, because we both need to win. But I know his dream is to be a coach, to be a manager. He has the capacity and quality to be a great manager in England or in another country.
“Of course I care a lot for Southampton. When Southampton changed the project after a year and a half I needed to go away, but my affection remains. I think it was one of the best periods in my life that we spent there.
“Of course I’m not happy with [their] situation. But it’s sure they have the tools to lift from that situation.”
Tottenham go into the match on the back of a 4-2 defeat at Arsenal in the North London derby, but Pochettino said he had been happy with his side’s display on Sunday.
“Until we conceded the third goal in the 77th minute it was an even game,” he said. “The performance was good.
“Last season they were much, much better when we lost 2-0. Of course, the result is so disappointing but I’m proud of the players, the performance, the effort — to cope with three big games in seven days is so difficult.”
Both Spurs and Arsenal have been charged by the FA for failing to control their players after a first-half brawl, sparked when Eric Dier celebrated his goal by putting his finger to his lips in front of Arsenal’s fans and substitutes.
“It’s difficult to control emotions in that moment,” Pochettino said. “To be honest, I didn’t talk with him.
“If you’re a Tottenham fan, you take it in one direction. If you’re an Arsenal fan, you take in another direction. If you’re the manager of Tottenham or Arsenal, or the Arsenal players doing the warm-up, you’re going to back your players.
“Now it’s just to accept the FA charge or not. It’s under investigation. If we did something wrong, it’s normal to pay.”
Pochettino added that he felt Spurs, now fifth in the Premier League and behind Arsenal on goal difference, were continuing to improve.
“Last season, at the same stage of the season, we had six points less than today,” he added. “I think after Liverpool and Everton we’re the team that improves the most — more than Arsenal, [Manchester] City, United or Chelsea.”