Jose Mourinho arrived at Tottenham in November. An appointment you couldn’t have envisioned 3-4 years ago. Or even at the time considering his affection for arch rivals Chelsea. Either way, despite what many people believe was an underwhelming spell at Manchester United, there was mostly excitement surrounding the Special One. The name says it all, he’s a serial winner. For such a decorated manager to go to a club that has struggled to win trophies recently, of course you would be excited.
It’s obvious the boat for a title and European glory has passed for this Tottenham side. For a good 2-3 seasons, they looked like genuine title challengers, capable of making history. Yet they fell short, perhaps 1-2 players away from their maiden Premier League title. Either way, Mourinho was brought in, to bring silverware to a club craving for it. Daniel Levy needs it, because serious questions are being asked about the ownership’s ambition by the Tottenham faithful. You would too, after being agonisingly close to trophies on such a tight budget.
Good start, but poor recent form
The side started off well with 4 wins in 5. A remarkable improvement from when Mauricio Pochettino was sacked with the side 14th in the table. The Argentine was relieved of his duties after taking the North London side as far as he could. Consistent European football qualification, title challenges and a Champions League final the obvious But the latter papered over the cracks in the side that had been there since the beginning of 2018/19.
The recent run of form under the Portuguese manager has been incredibly disappointing. 4 defeats in a row across all competitions have left Spurs in a position where they could end the season without anything. Not just no silverware, but no Champions League football. Of course the result against Leipzig can be reversed in the 2nd leg in Germany. But do you really back them to beat a tough side away from home with a 1 goal deficit on aggregate? They’re not favourites, that’s for sure.
Defeat to Chelsea for the second time this season, both under Mourinho, have left Spurs 5 points adrift of Top 4. They’ve had multiple chances this season to capitalise on dropped points by the Blues, Arsenal and United. Yet all of these opportunities have been squandered. It’s no doubt the worst Top 4 race of all time. No team seems to be consistent enough to really be a frontrunner for clinching Champions League football. A reflection of how poor all of the sides, apart from City and Liverpool, have been compared to their squads of the past.
Then yesterday’s defeat on penalties by Norwich to knock them out of the FA Cup was a complete shock. A disaster for Spurs and the former Chelsea boss, with the cup perhaps being their best chance of a trophy this season. A Champions League triumph obviously isn’t realistic, so the FA Cup was their best bet. However a poor performance meant the Canaries stunned the hosts to make it 4 defeats in a row.
Jose Mourinho – The Spurs injury crisis
The blame can’t solely be put on Mourinho. It’s easy to point fingers to the man at the helm, especially when the style of football isn’t easy on the eye. If you’re winning, it’s acceptable. But when you start losing, it just saps the enjoyment out of any game for a fan I can imagine. The squad is clearly not good enough to compete for Top 4 or domestic cups, let alone the title.
Injuries have left the squad deflated and completely blunt in attack. With Harry Kane out until late in 2019/20 and Son out for the rest of the season, it’s left Mourinho having to play Lucas Moura up front. After his heroics against Ajax last season, you’d think he’s not a bad replacement. But just 4 goals in 26 Premier League games will make you think otherwise. Not good enough. Bergwijn has been a positive since his arrival from the Dutch League. However he can’t do it alone.
“Now people can see that he has to work a lot so don’t think that Parrott is the second Harry Kane because he’s just a young kid that needs to work.”Mourinho on Troy Parrott after defeat to Norwich yesterday
Fans have called for Mourinho to bring in Troy Parrott, but he clearly thinks he’s not ready. That’s definitely up for debate. But the argument for not giving youth a chance can’t be used against the Tottenham boss. Japhet Tanganga was given his Premier League debut by the Portuguese manager against league leaders Liverpool. Ryan Sessegnon played and scored against Bayern Munich. Oliver Skipp played against Norwich yesterday. It’s clearly not an age issue. Parrott got 25-30 minutes against the Canaries, but that’s all. He must not be good enough to start week in week out in the toughest league in the world if he’s not being picked.
Then midfield. Giovani Lo Celso has finally find his feet in England and looks like a brilliant signing. But other than him, once again it lacks creativity and any sort of threat. Dele Alli, despite starting well in Mourinho’s tenure, has gone back to being ‘his brother’. Very inconsistent. Sissoko, often so important for providing the energy and drive in the centre of pitch, has been injured. Ndombele’s own injury issues have meant the former Inter Milan has been hesitant to use him. He’s outstanding when he plays, but his legs are made of glass. You can’t blame Mourinho for being cautious.
Finally the defence. They’ve conceded 39 goals in the Premier League, the joint most out of any side in the Top 10. Vertonghen and Alderweireld are past their primes now. Whether giving the latter a new contract was a good decision remains to be seen. That could come back to bite Jose Mourinho, if he does get worse. Serge Aurier can have the good game here and there. But the Ivorian is inconsistent and reckless, shown on numerous occasions this season. The back four, along with a lot of areas on the pitch, needs reinforcements in the summer transfer window.
Points dropped, opportunities missed
It’s a slump for Tottenham, no doubt about it. This happens to every side in football, Liverpool are going through it right now. But why Spurs fans are concerned is not just the results, they’re just not playing well. A mundane brand of football coupled with poor results will inevitably lead to fingers being pointed. The appointment of Mourinho did initially divide fans because of his Chelsea history as well as the fact he’s been sacked from his two previous jobs.
Though they have been among the better sides in 2020 and there has been an overall improvement in results under the 3 time Premier League winner, losing to Chelsea twice, Southampton and recently to Wolves are examples of results that if they had won, they would be in the Top 4. Comfortably. Instead, they find themselves at risk of falling into the Europa League and being knocked out next week in Germany.
You can’t judge Jose Mourinho YET
So is it Jose Mourinho’s fault? I’d say no. The football was never going to be pretty and Tottenham fans knew that. So that aside, the side that has been held together by Levy and Pochettino has been regressing since the beginning of last season. Yes they made Top 4 and were runners up in the Champions League. But there was clearly friction in the dressing room and they lost 13 GAMES in the Premier League in 2018/19. If Poch had stayed, they could’ve been in lower mid-table. It’s hard to expect Mourinho to work miracles having been in North London for only 5 months.
The time to judge him will be after a summer transfer window, where he will demand backing from Daniel Levy. You’d like to think he wouldn’t have taken the job without these promises. The squad needs a revamp, new faces and some energy, because the Pochettino project had gone stale despite his outstanding work. Unfortunately, nothing to show for it though. After a transfer window with adequate backing, if there’s no visible improvement, then yes, Jose Mourinho will be judged. Perhaps being sacked for the 3rd job in a row may signal the end of the former Real Madrid boss in top management. Well, at least in England.
For now though, the rest of this season should be a write-off for Tottenham fans. They’re better off than where they were when Pochettino was sacked and Jose Mourinho has done this with a squad plagued with injuries as well as players who clearly aren’t good enough. Fingers should not be pointed yet. That’s my opinion, let me know yours in the comments below.
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