Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists the Premier League is worse off without Jose Mourinho but believes ‘The Special One’ will be replaced by ‘The Crazy One’ if his former coach Marcelo Bielsa takes charge at Swansea.
Pochettino knows Bielsa well, having played under him for Argentina, Espanyol and Newell’s Old Boys, and the 60-year-old is now favourite to land the vacant position at the Liberty Stadium.
The arrival of Bielsa, known as ‘El Loco’ – The Crazy One, might go some way to filling the personality gap left by Mourinho, who parted company with Chelsea on Thursday with the club sitting 16th in the table.
“I was very surprised and sad – it is a big loss for the Premier League,” Pochettino said.
“I have a very good relationship with him (Mourinho) and it is a difficult moment for him.
“It is difficult for me to give my opinion about a different club. I can only say I am very sad and shocked because it was a big shock for me and I think for everyone.
“Last season Chelsea was the best team so it surprised me but football is quick and present. All my solidarity is with him.
“He is one of or the best managers in the world. I have a big respect for him. The most important thing is it’s a big loss for the Premier League.”
Bielsa, who unexpectedly left Marseille in August, is known for his intense training sessions and unusual tactics.
As manager of Athletic Bilbao, he reportedly threw water over the pitch to make it harder for Barcelona to play their passing style.
“He is good because maybe we will miss the Special One so maybe now we will have the Crazy One,” Pochettino said.
“It is a pleasure for me if he comes because he is one of the best managers in the world.
“He is like my father in both ways because he is 60 years old so he can be my father and he is also like my football father.
“I know him since (I was) 14 years old and I arrived at Newell’s Old Boys.
“It is a great opportunity for him but I don’t know if it’s true or not as I haven’t spoken to him for a while.”
Tottenham will be without Ryan Mason and Alex Pritchard, who both have ankle injuries, for the trip to Southampton on Saturday, while Pochettino said he expects Clinton Njie to be out for more than a month with a knee problem.
A late decision will be made on Mousa Dembele’s fitness. The midfielder has missed the last two games with a stomach bug and a foot injury but returned to training this week.
Pochettino was given a mixed reception last season at Southampton, after leading the club to an eighth-place finish in 2014 before leaving to take over at Spurs.
“It wasn’t the whole stadium (cheering me) – only a few people,” Pochettino said.
“I feel it’s not an issue because for me it was a big move coming from Spain and it is not easy to explain why we split our way but I feel very good things from Southampton.
“I have a lot of people that love me and people I love there. It will always be an important club in my career.”