Manchester United travel to Wembley on Sunday ahead of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first real test as interim manager.
Tottenham are positioned third in the table – six points off Premier League leaders Liverpool – and will be looking to keep their nose in the title race, however unlikely it is they’ll win it outright.
We caught up with Spurs season ticket holder and blogger, Katherine Lucas, who reveals what he likes and doesn’t like about United. She might dislike us even more in the summer if United go knocking on Mauricio Pochettino’s door with a dotted line to sign.
Without further ado, grab a cup of coffee and read our brief conversation prior to the biggest game in the league this weekend.
– Let’s start with Mauricio Pochettino. Please summarise the job he’s done at Tottenham?
The very fact Tottenham are now even discussed as title contenders at all is largely down to Mauricio Pochettino. Champions League football has gone from a pipedream achieved only once in the Premier League era, by Harry Redknapp in 2010, to an expectation – anything less would now be seen as a huge disappointment.
Poch has coped with the restrictions placed on him superbly. This season, for example, without Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama for the majority of it, he’s brought Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks up to scratch while also giving Oliver Skipp (18) his chance. There really aren’t many managers like him around.
– Putting your love for Tottenham aside, where do you honestly think Pochettino will be next season?
It would be naïve to say his loyalty means he’s certain to stay with the club. The lure of United is obvious, but he would have an awful lot of work to do and abandon the project he has worked so hard towards in north London. On top of that, his family are settled and both his sons are involved at Spurs, one playing in the youth team and the other working as a sports scientist.
I could actually see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being given a shot if he gets United into the top four and perhaps wins the FA Cup. The big danger is that even if Pochettino doesn’t fancy United, he sees Spain as his home and the Real Madrid job could well be vacant in the summer.
– Were you surprised when Alderweireld started this season in a Spurs shirt? How has he done?
It’s fortunate for Spurs that no big offers came in for Alderweireld this summer because he’s been crucial, especially in light of Jan Vertonghen’s injury problems. Most fans were resigned to him going and probably still are, but he’s done very well. Last season was a bit shaky when he came back from a long-term knee injury but other than that, he’s pretty much back to his best.
– Do you see Spurs sticking with Liverpool and City between now and the end of the season?
Spurs have a lot of irons in the fire so it’s going to be difficult. However, neither Arsenal nor Chelsea look all that threatening so third-place seems a realistic aspiration. It’ll be hard to keep pace with Liverpool and City, though, when their squads have so much more depth. A couple of injuries could really be a problem for Spurs.
– The new stadium. Wtf is going on?
It’s obviously really disappointing to hear of more setbacks. Everyone wants to get in this season as whatever Neil Warnock says, teams would rather play us at Wembley than at our real home. Season-ticket holders paid their balance in April of last year so to not get the seats they were promised is frustrating, but not entirely in the club’s control. All anyone can really hope for now is clear and honest communication between now and the end of the season.
– If Pochettino leaves Spurs, who do you want in next?
As much as it doesn’t bear thinking about, if the worst happens, someone like Eddie Howe would be a popular choice. He plays attacking football and has a history of developing homegrown players. Otherwise, a lot of fans could get on board with Jurgen Klinsmann.
– What do you love / hate about Manchester United? One point each…
United deserve a lot of respect for their willingness to give opportunities to local Academy products like Rashford and Lingard who just ‘get’ the ethos of the club.
As for hate, Daniel Levy could probably answer this one best. No matter what we do, United have a knack for derailing us, first taking Michael Carrick and then essentially kidnapping Dimitar Berbatov from the airport when we tried to spite him by sending him to City. Please leave our manager alone.
– Predict The Spurs line-up this weekend…
Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane
– Score prediction?
United are still struggling to keep clean sheets, while the last time Spurs failed to score was back in October against Manchester City – predicting a first draw of the season for the hosts: 1-1.
A special thanks to Katherine for answering our questions.