SOUTHAMPTON manager Mauricio Pochettino has an admirer in the shape of Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio.
The duo are two of the newest Premier League bosses.
And last season the rookies were locked in a relegation battle when the Italian first arrived at the Stadium of Light in April – the two teams going on to share a 1-1 draw on Wearside on their way to securing survival.
Back then, they hoped to be competing in the same league at a higher level in the following campaign.
And Di Canio travelled to the south coast tomorrow hoping that the pair are still on course to do that – though he accepts Southampton have put themselves in pole position by investing £35million on three new players to add to an already impressively emerging squad.
The Sunderland boss told the Echo: “I had a long conversation with Pochettino last season after our game at the Stadium of Light.
“I liked him – he was very good, very intelligent, a good lad and I like his style of football.
“He wants to play football with movement and understanding and he wants it to be attractive and exciting.
“I wished him the best of luck because we are in a similar situation.
“He was new to the Premier League and so was I, and we both want to establish a good reputation here.
“He made an impact at Southampton, but, when we talked last season, we talked about how we both hoped we would both stay up and maybe go on to compete for higher places in the league.”
Di Canio thinks Pochettino has every chance of doing that, given the investment going on in an already prospering squad.
He said: “The signing of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is a good one – for the future, he’s going to be a top quality footballer who will give them good service.
“They are a good side and, if they integrate the three new signings in what is already a good system that suits them, they can easily finish in the top 10.
“What impresses me is that they now have a good substitutes’ bench – that is crucial in this league, because you need to make changes in games which can improve your side.
“They play 4-3-3 and they know how to use it, they pass the ball well, so it will be an interesting contest.
“But we will look to do well.
“We will look to pass the ball out from our own half and cause problems and there are two or three areas where we can tighten up.”