EPoch-making game for Spurs?

AT RISK of sounding quaint and old-fashioned, Saturday night's FA Cup semifinal between Spurs and Manchester United actually matters.

The shamefully-denigrated old trophy doesn't seem to these days but this is a clash between a manager with a bus-load of silverware and a young pretender who has yet to win any; between yesterday's man and the coming man.

Both Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino could use a win that would see them favourites for the final against either Chelsea or Southampton who meet on Sunday. And both could use the trophy - albeit for very different reasons.

Another pot would be a mere consolation prize for the United boss – and scant consolation at that. But for his opposite number it would mark an overdue breakthrough: for all the praise showered on the Argentinian, his cupboard is still bare.

It is not critical yet, but in a "winning is everything" age, he needs success somewhere to ensure he's not a nearly man. And to ensure Spurs are not a nearly team.

It's a decade since their last triumph - a League Cup win under Juande Ramos (remember him?) – and there have been a few more false dawns since. But they've never been this close to glory.

Their football is universally acclaimed. They've hammered Dortmund and Real Madrid, and held Juventus in Turin. They are doing things the right way. They give kids a chance.

Next season they will have a spanking new stadium that will be the second biggest in the country and bring on new revenue streams. They already have a core of outstanding players. They just need to hold on to them.

Pochettino is seen as the best means of doing this and winning a trophy is the best way of holding on to him. Not that the world's oldest cup strikes much of a chord with a man brought up in South America.

Its romance is something of a mystery to him and he said this week: "It doesn't offer a place in the Champions League." But winning it would be a start – and a reward for their long-suffering fans. Indeed, what better way of ensuring 61,000 sell-outs in the new White Hart Lane.

You get the feeling Poch is trying to build something here – something like a dynasty. Like Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, only more quietly. Yes, there are similarities in where the two clubs and two managers find themselves.

Neither have sovereign wealth funds behind them but they do have billionaires and they're trying to bridge the gap with their shrewdness and motivational powers. And so far the players have bought into it.

Harry Kane could double his £100k a week as most players could but they sense they are part of something big. Another trophyless, "nearly" season might persuade a few that they're never going to make it.

One or two could look to cash in elsewhere as Toby Alderweireld seems destined to do. Even Kane has not ruled out one day going to Real Madrid. Nor, you feel, has Poch.

He's biding his time while building. Any aspiring Real manager knows they need something to fall back on when the inevitable happens. Sometimes even the Double isn't enough as Vincente del Bosque discovered.

If Pochettino can establish Spurs as a top four club with a near-permanent place in the Champions League, he will confirm the promise he showed initially at Espanyol and then at Southampton.

Like Klopp, he seems immensely likeable which is not how he first came to our attention. He was the lanky Argentina centre-back who tripped England's Michael Owen at the 2002 World Cup. David Beckham put away the penalty to win 1-0.

In England it was seen as another example of Argie dirty tricks and that it was the peerless Pierluigi Collina who awarded the kick appeared to remove any doubt. Yet Poch still insists he never touched him and that it was the choirboy-faced Owen, "who jumped like he was in a swimming pool. Come on. I didn't touch him. I promise you. It's true."

He said that when his very own Michael Owen, Dele Alli, was first accused of diving, adding: "I think today football is more global. England is more like European football. Now we have the influence of the Latin people that try to cheat always. Maybe you were more pure 20, 25, 30 years ago. Now you are like us."

It's a measure of how the standing of the two has changed in that today we are more likely to believe Poch than Owen, whose stock plummeted when he became a mercenary as well as a diver.

Pochettino will need all his wits about him if he is to prevail against Mourinho who, for all his well-documented woes, does know how to win these things.

Winning the cup would be one more bauble to add to the pair the Portuguese won last season. "Three trophies in two years," you can hear him say and with a shot at the Community Shield to come!

It's one reason the cheers would be louder for a Spurs win which, for the respective managers, may have more lasting significance. The FA Cup isn't going to keep Mourinho at Old Trafford beyond next season – only vast improvements in both Premier League and Champions League can achieve that.

Whereas for Poch it would be a stepping stone, the moment the coming man arrives – and eclipses yesterday's. And it is not just Real Madrid who have their eyes on him – United do too.

Fergie has sung his praises and even taken him to dinner, and outfoxing the old fox that is the current manager would be a useful audition for the United job too. Who said the FA Cup didn't matter?

Bob's latest book, Living the Dream, is available at all major book stores and Bob will be signing copies at D'Legends Bar, 24 Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, TTDI, KL, on Saturday evening, April 21st between the Liverpool vs WBA game and Spurs vs Manchester United FA Cup semifinal.