LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur have taken a different path to Manchester City but manager Mauricio Pochettino believes the Londoners can soon rival Sunday’s opponents as one of the world’s biggest clubs.
City were catapulted to the 2011-12 and 2013-14 Premier League titles by the huge investment of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and have become Champions League regulars.
Spurs have made steadier progress in Pochettino’s two seasons in charge, finishing fifth and third and qualifying for the Champions League for only the second time.
While City boast some of the world’s biggest names, such as Sergio Aguero and David Silva, and went on a huge spending spree in the summer, Tottenham have largely relied on a core of young English players mixed with some astute foreign signings.
Under new manager Pep Guardiola a rampant City have won six out of six in the league so far this season but unbeaten Tottenham are their closest pursuers, four points behind.
Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at White Hart Lane offers Pochettino the chance to get one over Guardiola who he once out-witted when he was in charge of Espanyol and the Spaniard was at the height of his powers with Barcelona.
Whatever the outcome, Pochettino believes Spurs are on course to become City’s regular rivals for silverware.
“Maybe we are a little behind them but our expectation in the long term is to compete with all the big clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool,” Pochettino said at a news conference on Friday.
”It’s important for us. Since 2014 we have been building a different project. We are building a new stadium, we have an unbelievable training ground and we want to set the principles to be a big, big club.
“Our spirit and ambition is to be one of the biggest in the world, but you need time and a normal process.”
Tottenham are building a new 60,000-seater stadium next to their historic White Hart Lane ground.
That will mean less in the transfer kitty but with such a young squad, including England regulars Kyle Walker, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Harry Kane, Spurs have great potential to maintain their current progress.
“It is difficult to compare Tottenham and Manchester City. You look at their budget, the salaries they pay and compare it with Tottenham, and it is very clear,” Pochettino said.
“If you look at my first season here, 2014-15, and compare it with Guardiola’s - how much he has spent, and how much I spend then. We have very different projects.”
Tottenham did the double over City last year when Manuel Pellegrini was in charge of the Manchester club.
Before that City had won the previous four clashes.
“It’s a very important game for us and for them, but it’s only a game,” Pochettino said.
“But it’s very early to start saying that it’s an important game to prove something. It’s important to reduce the gap but be sure that my speech if we win will be the same as if we don‘t.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris