Mauricio Pochettino believes under-fire Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has done an “amazing” job and harbours no lingering animosity over his sacking in 2019.
Chelsea manager Pochettino will return to Spurs for the first time since being dismissed by Levy for Monday evening’s derby against his former side.
The Argentinian was a popular figure during a five-and-a-half-year spell in north London but risked tarnishing his legacy by joining one of their fiercest rivals in the summer.
Levy – the Premier League’s longest-serving chairman – has endured criticism and protests from fans since the end of that era, albeit his recent appointment of Ange Postecoglou and a strong start to this season has restored some credit.
Pochettino received a message of congratulations from his former boss following his move to Stamford Bridge and insists they are on good terms ahead of an eagerly-anticipated reunion.
Asked about the state of the relationship, he replied: “Very good, yes.
“We are very respectful and he sent a text when I signed here, wishing the best to me and everyone.
“We need to be natural. Nearly six years working together, how many things happened in six years? Good and not so good.
“We are responsible for our relationship. We cannot now forget our relationship in a period which was very important in our careers and for the club.”
Tottenham challenged for the Premier League title, became Champions League regulars and built a £1billion stadium during Pochettino’s time working under Levy.
Pochettino feels the 61-year-old businessman deserves credit for helping grow the club.
He also acknowledged intense scrutiny comes with the territory when asked for his view on some Spurs supporters calling for Levy to go.
“Football is football,” said Pochettino.
“He is involved now more than 20 years in football and understands the situation.
“I think it’s really important to understand that the fans are very emotional, more than us, and they want that your team every time win and play well.
“I cannot say fair or not fair (the calls for Levy to step down). (Or) if it was fair that we were sacked or not – that is football and we need to accept the rules of football.
“Daniel is really clever, clever enough to understand that the feelings are the feelings. But that doesn’t mean that the people don’t recognise your job.
“He was amazing, the job he’s doing for Tottenham, for the club.
“You see Tottenham 20 years ago and now, how it changed, how it moved on and I think you need to recognise his job.”
Pochettino is unconcerned about the reception he will receive from fans of his former club.
The 51-year-old suggested he could still be Tottenham boss, if he had not been dismissed.
“I am going to accept what they will show,” he said of the supporters.
“I didn’t decide to leave. We parted ways because I was sacked.
“But it’s not a criticism to the club. That is a difference, we didn’t decide to leave. Maybe (we could be) still there.”