'He will always be a special manager' - Pochettino lauds Wenger's longevity

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The Tottenham manager heaped praise on his Arsenal counterpart ahead of Saturday's north London derby

Mauricio Pochettino wants to emulate "special" Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger by spending 20 years at Tottenham.

Bragging rights will be up for grabs when Tottenham visit north London rivals Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday, but Spurs boss Pochettino preferred to heap praise on counterpart Wenger.

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Wenger – the longest-serving manager in England's top flight – has spent 21 years in charge of Arsenal, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup trophies.

Pochettino, 45, is keen to follow in the footsteps of 68-year-old Wenger, albeit at Spurs, where he has occupied the dugout since 2014.

"In football history he's one of the great managers, the same level as [Sir Alex] Ferguson," Pochettino said. "He will always be a special manager.

"To keep motivation more than three years is difficult. Five years, you must be very good, very good if you're 10 years. When you talk about 20 years it's amazing. Everyone who talks about him needs to show respect. Some days you're good, some days not so good. But [show] respect.

Pochettino quote

"Wenger was an innovator, ahead of everyone, like Ferguson. It's difficult to innovate but you must try to create a project under your ideas and philosophies to take you ahead of other clubs. They were ahead. That's why my respect and admiration is high."

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Pochettino added: "I tell the truth to you. Why show different emotion if you don't believe that? I need to be honest and fair.

"He is my enemy because he is Arsenal manager but he is my colleague too. What he is doing at Arsenal and as a manager – I would like to be like him one day; 20 years at Tottenham."

Tottenham – top of their group in the Champions League – are third in the Premier League, eight points behind leaders Manchester City and four clear of Arsenal.

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