Assessing Jose Mourinho at Tottenham

The Change

It was a shock that had come through the news on the 19th of November, 2019. Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino had been sacked by the club following their draw against the Blades which was yet another disappointing result. Less than 12 hours later, Sky Sports pundit Jose Mourinho was appointed as Tottenham manager to get things back on track.

Game results that followed

Spurs had not won an away game for nearly a year with Pochettino in charge and a change was indeed required. In came the ‘Special One’. After being sacked with Manchester United, Mourinho was keen on making a statement of intent in his first game.

Away at West Ham was not going to be easy with their form but a new era proved a new result. A 3-2 victory including a special Dele Alli flick to assist Son with his goal meant that Spurs had finally won a game away from home. Lucas Moura and Harry Kane chipped in to give Spurs a three-goal advantage before two late goals from the home side.

The next opponents were Greek side Olympiakos in the Champions Leauge, Mourinho’s first night in North London. After being two goals down in the first half, Spurs made a heroic comeback to change the scoreline to 4-2 thanks to some brilliant work by one of the ball-boys.

A comfortable home victory against Bournemouth was what Tottenham deserved with a late wobble in the end. However, another 3-2 win kept the 100% win streak for Spurs getting them up to fifth spot with 20 points.

Going to Old Trafford followed against his former club Manchester United and the result wasn’t ideal. Marcus Rashford secured a 2-1 victory for United as Spurs inflicted their first loss.

Mourinho bounced back with a thumping 5-0 win over Burnley which comprised of a Heung-Min special. A goal from his own box going solo was a goal-of-the-season contender.

Tottenham travelled to Munich to face Bayern where a 3-1 loss didn’t have much impact as Spurs had already gone through to the Round of 16.

Up next were a very strong Wolves side who grabbed an equaliser through Traroe after an excellent Lucas Moura goal to make it 1-1. It took Spurs every second of the match to finally grab a late winner in stoppage time through a Jan Vertonghen header meaning they were at fifth spot with 26 points, three behind Chelsea.

Up next was his coached team-mate Frank Lampard who was in charge of the Blues. It was a disappointing night knowing that a victory would help them leapfrog their opponents. South Korean star Heung Min Son was given a red card after a violent action against Chelsea’s Rudiger to leave Tottenham down to 10 men. There were also reports of racism which had been announced to the fans telling them there was no tolerance for such behaviour. 2-0 the final score.

Brighton at home was next where Tottenham got their Christmas win over the seagulls through Harry Kane.

Norwich away from home wasn’t going to be easy as Spurs drew 2-2 that game thanks to a free-kick from Eriksen and a late Harry Kane penalty meaning Tottenham were at sixth with 30 points.

Mourinho’s men travelled to St. Mary’s stadium up against Southampton where they lost 1-0 as well as Harry Kane through an injured hamstring leaving them sixth, just five points ahead of the Saints.

Spurs went against Middlesbrough in the FA cup to draw 1-1 and had to play a forced replay.

Having to play against Liverpool next was tough losing 1-0 thanks to a thumping goal from Firmino. Tottenham could have got an equaliser if Lo-Celso hadn’t missed a simple goal from close range sparking contradicting emotions from both managers.

The third-round tie against Middlesbrough was a hard-fought victory progressing to the next round.

Next opponents were bottom of the table Watford who Spurs drew a frustrating 0-0 against away from home.

Norwich at home was just the tie Tottenham needed where they won the game 2-1 thanks to Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son.

Up next in the FA Cup was a tough Southampton side away from home to who Spurs drew the game 1-1 against.

A brilliant victory against 10-men Manchester City thanks to a debut goal from new signing Steven Bergwijn meant a dream start for him and a dream result for Spurs trailing just four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Tottenham returned for their tie against Southampton in the FA Cup to win the game and progress 3-2 gratitude of a late penalty from Heung-Min Son.

Travelling to Birmingham, Tottenham were against promoted Aston Villa who they beat thanks once again to Son who got them the late winner yet again. But, he injured himself during that match meaning Tottenham were without another key player for their Premier League campaign.

Spurs came back for Champions League action against Leipzig who they were defeated against at home 1-0 denting hopes to reach the next stage.

Chelsea were next, a team which Tottenham needed to defeat at Stamford Bridge to get another chance to leapfrog their opponents. However, that was not to be as Frank Lampard’s men defeated Spurs comfortably 2-1.

Wolves came to Spurs to enjoy a 3-2 comeback win thanks to Raul Jimenez scoring the winner leaving Mourinho’s men down to seventh in the table with 40 points.

An FA Cup tie against Norwich was due where Tottenham lost in a penalty shoot-out thanks to some heroic saves by goal-keeper Tim Krul.

A trip to Burnley was going to be tough as for many other clubs and the form Tottenham were in wasn’t ideal heading into the match. A 1-1 was all Tottenham took from the game meaning next opponents Leipzig were next in the Champions League.

Spurs lost the game miserably and that was to be seen by many before the match. 3-0 was the final score which Tottenham had to swallow but 4-0 on aggregate added salt to the wounds.

His Tactics

The way Mourinho likes to play is deploying a 4-2-3-1. Heung-Min Son and Steven Bregwijn are used as wingers supported by Lo-Celso and Harry Winks. Dele Alli is more often receiving balls in from centre-back Toby Alderwireld meaning at times, it is hard for the opposition to stay focused on the midfielder. Pochettino’s last game had Lo-Celso as winger and Ndombele alongside Sissoko. With the unfitness of Ndombele, Spurs had relied too much on their back four. The back four, therefore, were at times all over the place meaning goals kept going in. It was something Mourinho had fixed enforcing them to hold their line in order to not let balls go through.

Was Mourinho a good choice?

Well, the results so far have shown that this might have been a mistake from Daniel Levy but others will argue that Spurs have been without their key men for most of the new era. There cannot be a real judgment made until next season where Mourinho will need to prove himself worthy of keeping his managing role.

His Words

New manager Jose Mourinho has been up and down in his Spurs journey so far in terms of press conferences. During his first press, he promised passion being brought into the club and showed great love for the club. However, there has been nothing positive much to talk about for the club and that was shown by Mourinho in their latest defeat to Leipzig. “We were like a gun without bullets” was the summary he gave which was very accurate. But it wasn’t bringing the ‘passion’ he had promised and that is something he would like to enforce back after their dream start.

What Next?

The Covid-19 pandemic has stopped the Premier Leauge indefinitely allowing Spurs to get their main players back which they dearly missed. This resulted in the poor string of results they have been conjuring. With the likes of Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Steven Bergwijn all returning, Spurs will be hoping to bring victories into place.

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