Shortly after Jose Mourinho turned Monday night’s post-match Manchester United press conference in to a familiar exercise in desperate and undignified narcissism, Mauricio Pochettino came in and thanked his scouting staff for finding him Lucas Moura.
‘It was a fantastic job,’ said the Tottenham manager in reference to his chief scout Steve Hitchen.
The contrast between Mourinho’s reminder of how many Premier League titles he has won (it’s three, if anyone needs a further reminder) and Pochettino’s keenness to share the credit for finding him Monday night’s match winner was immediately clear.
Lucas Moura (left) has been a revelation this season with three goals in three games for Spurs
Pochettino praised the scouting team and chief scout Steve Hitchen for acquisition of Moura
Greater context is provided by the lengths Pochettino had to go to last season to persuade Moura that Tottenham was indeed the right place for him in the weeks and months that followed the Brazilian’s arrival at the club from PSG in January.
Moura only started two Premier League games last season prompting his agent to complain to Pochettino about his lack of game time.
There was also concern expressed by the Moura camp that the 26-year-old was being asked to play wide in training when his preferred position was through the middle.
Pochettino knew that Moura’s agent may try to move the player on once again but he was keen to keep him.
He explained that Moura’s time would come once he had adjusted to the pace and physicality of the English game but would not budge on the matter of where the Brazilian would play.
Moura had been bought for his pace, Pochettino explained, and that was best utilised from a wide position.
Moura uses his pace to escape a Chris Smalling (right) tackle as he goes to get his second
Moura, 26, joined Tottenham in January but only made two league starts before this season
MOURA’S STATS VS MAN UNITED
Minutes played – 90
Shots – 2
Goals – 2
Passing accuracy – 56 per cent
Dribbles – 2
Tackles – 1
Yellows – 1
Anyone who was at Old Trafford on Monday will have noticed the way Moura terrorised Manchester United’s defence with the speed and directness of his running.
Moura has started all three of Tottenham’s Premier League games this season – scoring three times already – but this was by far his best performance in a Tottenham shirt.
He has had his chance this season courtesy of his own performances but also because Pochettino hasn’t been able to bring in any other players to strengthen his squad.
Pochettino wanted to add depth in several areas and had serious interest in, for example, Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace and Jack Grealish.
It can also be revealed here that the Spurs boss wanted to sign the Brazilian holding player Fred but was beaten to the punch by United, for whom the emerging midfielder played on Monday night.
Pochettino saw Fred as a candidate to replace Mousa Dembele in the long-term. The Belgian has not signed a new contract and is expected to be sold in the January window.
Moura poses with former Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Serge Aurier (right) at training
Despite a lack of signings, the Tottenham players have shown a real togetherness so far
But though Pochettino has been disappointed by his club’s failure to be bring him new players it doesn’t seem to have affected the bond between the players he already as.
Striker Harry Kane said after Monday’s game: ‘That’s what happens. The gaffer said he’s not just going to bring in players for the sake of it.
‘What that does is it give the rest of the squad huge belief because it shows he has belief in us, so now we have to repay him for that and repay the club for that.
‘Lucas is one of them that some fans might have thought: “Is he going to stay, is he going to go?”.
‘But he’s stayed, and he’s worked hard and he’s done well, and he’s deserved his place in the team and that’s what it’s about.
‘He wants to keep his place and we all do. The competition for places is high and we’ve just to keep it going.’
Another Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela broke down injured in Monday night’s warm up and it is understood that Pochettino is keen to find a regular place for the Argentinean when he recovers.