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Jose Mourinho has earned the right to criticise players - Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Jose Mourinho has earned the right to criticise his players publicly because of the number of trophies he has won.

The pair go head to head on Sunday when Spurs take on Manchester United at Old Trafford where, if they win, Pochettino's men will move nine points clear of their opponents.

Mourinho's frustration with his side's stuttering start to the season has been directed towards referees, water bottles and even his own players.

The Portuguese questioned the commitment of Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling last month after they were unavailable for a game against Swansea, and two weeks ago said summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan was not ready to play in big matches.

Pochettino did admit recently his own new arrival Moussa Sissoko had not yet lived up to expectations at the club but it was rare for the Argentinian, who tends to back his players with the aim of maintaining a close-knit group.

"You cannot compare Mourinho with me. Mourinho is on the top. I am behind," Pochettino said.

"He is in a different moment in his career. Maybe I hope one day to win the same titles as him. Maybe I will start to criticise the players in that moment.

"It's too difficult to compare. It's not good to compare. I don't think he'll be happy if you compare him with me. I am younger than him."

Pochettino has overseen only one victory in 10 games against Mourinho, with their history beginning in Spain when Pochettino managed Espanyol and Mourinho was in charge at Real Madrid.

The Spurs boss says Mourinho offered him some memorable words of advice.

"I was lucky to meet him when I started my career in Espanyol," Pochettino said.

"I think it was a great experience for me that he opened his door. Now when a young manager starts his career and wants to talk with you and see how you work, that inspired me to open the door to younger coaches.

"It's important, that moment helped me a lot. He was kind not because he gave me a bottle of wine. He was kind because, it's important when you start your career that some people tell the truth about what to expect.

"To be a manager, 'don't believe it will be easy. Some problems will come'. He is always direct and honest, you can see that. I like that."

Pochettino refused to criticise Dele Alli last weekend, even after the midfielder dived to win Tottenham a penalty in their 5-0 thrashing of Swansea.

The 20-year-old then scored against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, having earlier irritated the Russian side by shooting when he had been expected to give them back the ball.

Alli's recent antics have coincided with a noticeable return to form.

"Dele Alli is Dele Alli because he's a little bit naughty," Pochettino said.

"Don't cross the line but this is a little bit his identity. It's who is he. Dele Alli is Dele Alli because of how he is. But it's his character, in a good way.

"He's a brilliant boy. He has a brilliant brain, he's very smart. He is very sensitive, very intuitive and because he comes from a difficult background you can understand when you're with him.

"But he's a very nice person - off the pitch."

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