It was only Mauricio Pochettino’s second game as a Premier League manager, but he left a lasting impression on Sir Alex Ferguson.
He was unknown when given the Southampton job in January 2013, replacing the popular Nigel Adkins with the club three points above the relegation zone.
But, after earning a credible draw with Everton in his first game, he then took his side to Old Trafford.
Ahead of the game, the 40-year-old said he was going there for a win – Southampton had not won there for 25 years.
And he nearly pulled it off, as Saints went ahead through Jay Rodriguez, but they ultimately fell short and United won 2-1.
Fergie thought his side were lucky.
“[Winning] is the name of the game at this stage of the season,” he said afterwards.
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“For the first 30 minutes I thought we were fantastic, we played really well. But in the second half Southampton have been the best team to play here this season.
“We were fortunate to win the game. They pushed on top of us and didn’t give us any time on the ball.”
Pochettino’s desire to win was evident.
“I’m very proud [of Ferguson’s praise]. It’s very important for my players to hear. But we leave with no points. We did play well but I’m upset at not getting a draw at least. It doesn’t console me.
“I think in the second half we played as we should have done for the whole game. I think it’s important for the team to know we can play that well.”
Ferguson followed Pochettino’s progress and watched him get the Spurs job in 2014 where he has made them Premier League title contenders.
During the 2015/16 season, Tottenham lost out to eventual champions Leicester and, when the legendary boss was asked in 2016 what had impressed him most about Tottenham during that campaign, he said: “Well, the manager has been fantastic.
“[Tottenham] have a bad record of managers, there is no doubt about that. They have had so many over the years, but this lad has composure. You never see him ruffled and the way his team play is a testimony to the work he is doing.
“The most important thing for English football is how many English and young players are in his team.
“He understands the advantage of playing young people. They won’t let you down and they have been fantastic. [Dele] Alli, [Harry] Kane, [Ryan] Mason, [Danny] Rose, [Eric] Dier, all English players, [Kyle] Walker, the right back, although he has been there for a bit longer.”
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Pochettino is also a big admirer of Fergie and there is a section of his book, Brave New World, dedicated to a lunch meeting the pair enjoyed in 2016.
News of Jose Mourinho’s dismissal has increased speculation Man United will try and install him as their next manager, with Old Trafford legend Gary Neville saying he’d be perfect.
“You look at Mauricio Pochettino’s belief in young players at Southampton and with Tottenham,” he told Sky Sports. “You look at his performance levels and the style of play. You look at the way he carries himself at all times, publicly and in private.
“I’ve been fortunate to spend time at Tottenham’s training ground, and for me he feels like the ideal candidate.
“Man United have tried managers who have won European cups, they’ve tried managers who have won multiple leagues.
“My view is they need someone who meets the three key principles of the football club, and that is promotion of youth, entertaining football, and to win football matches.”