Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has heaped praise on arch rival Arsene Wenger while claiming his would love to match the Frenchman's longevity with Spurs.
The pair will clash on on Saturday when they meet for the first North London derby of the season and while Pochettino may have the better record, after going the last six league meetings between the two unbeaten, he refuses to agree they are the favourites.
Wenger has come under continued criticism from last season as the side lumbers in sixth place, three points from fourth and four from Spurs, but the Guardian report Pochettino's defence of his fellow manager stating he is one of the best and deserves respect.
He said: “In football history he’s one of the great managers, the same level as [Sir Alex] Ferguson.
“He will always be a special manager. When you talk about 20 years it’s amazing. Everyone who talks about him needs to show respect.
“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. That’s why my respect and admiration is high.”
Pochettino was asked if he was making the statements as part of a mind game tactic but he denied that was the case replying that he wishes to replicate Wenger's achievement of 20 years at a single club.
He said: “I tell the truth to you. Why show different emotion if you don’t believe that?
"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.”
That will come as good news to Tottenham fans after their strong performances in the Premier League in the last two years as well as qualification to the knockouts of this year's Champions League.
The Argentine signed a new five-year deal in the summer while recently saying that he would sign a 15-year deal, if chairman Daniel Levy offered it to him.