By Harry Sykes

Gary Neville has claimed that Mauricio Pochettino ousted up to eight bad characters at Tottenham as part of his wholesale squad overhaul.

The Sky Sports pundit hailed Pochettino as the “most exciting” manager in the Premier League, and potentially in Europe, for transforming the fortunes of Spurs since taking charge in the summer of 2014.

Tottenham finished third in the Premier League last season and have emerged as longtime-leaders Chelsea’s only title challengers this season.

They could even secure a momentous league and cup double as they prepare for Saturday’s mouthwatering FA Cup semi-final showdown against Chelsea.

Manchester United legend Neville is in no doubt that much of the credit must go to Pochettino for turning a squad of underachievers into an established Champions League club able to challenge for the top trophies.

“I love the coach, I think he is brilliant,” Neville told Sky Sports 1’s Monday Night Football programme (17 April). “He picked up a squad of poor characters, seven or eight of them.

“To transform it so quickly with not a huge amount of money at all – Tottenham are well coached, play brilliantly, exciting and I just think that they (the players) all respond to him, they love him.

“To me, he is the most exciting young coach in the Premier League, and potentially the most exciting in Europe.”

Neville did not name the unsavoury characters but it is likely that he was alluding to players such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli, who all had run-ins with the Argentine before they were sold.

Tottenham have accumulated 71 points from 32 league matches this season, while Chelsea have totalled 75 from the same number of fixtures.

Neither side are in league action this coming weekend as they prepare to go head to head at Wembley this weekend.

In other Tottenham news, the club have sensationally terminated the contract of one of their defenders.

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