Pochettino in secret lunch meeting with Ferguson

Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Tottenham's supporters are sure to be worried after their manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has taken them to second place in the English Premier League this season, was spotted meeting Manchester United icon Alex Ferguson along with his assistant Jesus Perez for a secret lunch in London on Tuesday, reported British media.

The Argentinian looked sheepish as he was pictured with the former United manager outside the Scott's Restaurant in Mayfair as Ferguson swiftly got into a waiting car and sped away, reported The Daily Mail.

Pochettino is one of the favourites to replace Louis van Gaal should the Dutchman leave Old Trafford this summer, although the Tottenham manager says he has a verbal agreement to remain with the London club until 2021.

According to Sky Sports, Tottenham remain confident that their manager will sign his new contract and say he was the instigator of Tuesday's meeting with Ferguson, who retains a strong influence at United and works as a director for the club.

Ferguson expressed his admiration for Pochettino in March, saying: "The manager has been fantastic. They have a bad record of managers, there is no doubt about that. They have had so many over the years.

"But this lad has composure. You never see him ruffled and the way his team play is a testimony to the work he is doing."

The pair have spoken before at League Managers' Association events.

Sources say Pochettino was determined to meet Ferguson on this occasion, insisting that he had nothing to hide.

It is understood Pochettino took Tottenham training in the morning, met Ferguson for lunch and then returned to the club in the afternoon.

The Argentinian revealed on April 29 his verbal agreement over a two-year contract extension until 2021, and said at the time he expected it to be made official within a few days.

Tottenham remain relaxed about the delay and believe the deal could be confirmed before Sunday's final game of the season at Newcastle, although next week may be more likely.

After announcing his plan to stay at White Hart Lane almost two weeks ago, Pochettino cited Ferguson as an example of the rewards longevity can bring.

"Alex Ferguson is a very special person. He was given the security to build his legacy at Manchester United," Pochettino said. "But I believe we are special too and we can build it here together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Pochettino in secret lunch meeting with Ferguson'. Print Edition | Subscribe