Mauricio Pochettino has defended Slaven Bilic as a “great guy and a good manager” in the wake of reports that the Croatian’s future at West Ham hinges on the final two games of the season.
West Ham currently sit 15th in the Premier League table, having spent the beginning of the season languishing near the relegation zone, and have home matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to come.
There have been reports that Bilic could lose his job if West Ham do not deliver impressive performances in their final two matches at the London Stadium this season. The club have struggled desperately since their move from Upton Park and have the fifth-worst home record in the league this season.
But Pochettino, whose high-flying Tottenham team will attempt to extend their run of Premier League runs to 11 when they travel to Stratford for the first time, thinks the Croatian has done a good job since joining the club in the summer of 2015.
“I have a very good relationship with [Bilic] and he is a great guy as well as a very good manager,” Pochettino said at Tottenham’s Enfield training ground the day before the match.
“It is always difficult when you move stadiums and you saw that with us and Wembley — we tried to make Wembley our home but it is just so difficult. So I think he is doing a really good job and it will be good to see him on Friday.”
For Pochettino, the London derby on Friday night also presents him with a good opportunity to pick Bilic’s brains over the move from Upton Park to their new ground in Stratford.
Last week, it was announced by club chairman Daniel Levy that Spurs have agreed a deal with Wembley Stadium to play all of their home matches there next season, ahead of the move to the club’s new 61,000 capacity stadium the season after.
Tottenham will play their final match at White Hart Lane against Manchester United on May 14, and Pochettino admitted he was looking forward to quizzing his West Ham counterpart on the difficulties of switching stadiums.
“It will be a great opportunity to speak to him,” Pochettino admitted. “And there will be a lot of questions for me to ask him. It is always important to listen and to be open to learn and maybe he can advise us on a few different things.
“We can see from the outside that it has been difficult for them but it is so hard to know the reality for them. I can say that when you move it’s going to be different and that you need to adapt to all of these different things, and we are aware that next season is going to be very important.
“Our willingness needs to be bigger than this season because we will need to be ready for everything. And all of the staff, players and fans need to know that next season is going to be tougher than the last.”
The move from White Hart Lane to a state-of-the-art new stadium has been masterminded by Tottenham’s chairman, Daniel Levy, who Pochettino was keen to praise for the club’s rapid turnaround.
For so long a mid-table team, Tottenham are now just one point away from guaranteeing Champions League qualification for the second time in two seasons — a first for the club.
“I think it’s a very good achievement for the club including the chairman — Daniel Levy — who deserves a lot of credit for these three years,” Pochettino added.
“His support is massive to myself and that is a good thing to recognise.
“With Tottenham today every decision is a club decision, we share all of the decisions and that is so important to success in football.
“Everything that he has been doing has been great for the staff, the players and the supporters. When you have a great chairman that we have, it is important that it is recognised.”