Belfast Telegraph

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino backs Gary Neville to succeed in Spain

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino believes Gary Neville has taken on a difficult job at Valencia but is backing the former Manchester United defender to be a success in La Liga.

Neville was named Valencia's new head coach until the end of the season on Wednesday, joining his brother Phil in Spain, who will remain on the club's coaching staff.

Pochettino enjoys a good relationship with Neville, who spent time at Tottenham's training ground last season and recently described the Argentine as his "favourite coach in the Premier League".

The Spurs boss is an avid follower of Spanish football, after spending eight years playing for Espanyol, and he believes Neville can thrive at his new club.

"I sent a text to him to wish him all the best because he is my colleague," Pochettino said.

"He is a brilliant man and I wish him all the best. It's a difficult job to take Valencia now.

"I know very well Valencia and Spanish football but he is capable of managing Valencia. I wish him all the best in a difficult job now.

"Always it is difficult to arrive in a new country, new language, new culture. It is all new for him.

"For me also it was very difficult at Southampton. It was maybe a very similar moment. But he is capable, he is very clever."

Pochettino took time to instil his own methods at White Hart Lane but his work is starting to bear fruit, with Spurs unbeaten in 13 league games ahead of Saturday's trip to West Brom.

Unity and discipline have been central to the team's progress and Pochettino praised the attitude of Andros Townsend after the winger made a special request to play for the club's under-21s against Middlesbrough on Monday.

Townsend was banished from the first team last month for squabbling with a fitness coach and, despite returning to the fold, remained on the bench against West Ham and Qarabag, before being left out completely against Chelsea last weekend.

"Andros was out of the squad and he asked to play in the under-21s against Middlesbrough. He asked to play," Pochettino said.

"It is a very good thing because the player was out for many weeks. It is a very good attitude to want to play for the under-21s, to keep working hard and keep his level and physical condition.

"Has he learned his lesson? Yes. It is not an issue. He is still young he has a big future in football here or at another club. You always need to learn in football."

Tottenham will be without midfielder Ryan Mason at the Hawthorns this weekend.

Mason sustained an ankle injury against Chelsea and is expected to be out for around two weeks.

Nabil Bentaleb (foot) and Nacer Chadli (ankle) are close to recovery but a return against Monaco in the Europa League next Thursday is more likely.

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