Tottenham have been poor so far this season but many fans wanted to give Mauricio Pochettino the benefit of the doubt after his years of service and as arguably the most successful manager the club has ever had. Instead, on November 19 he was sacked and within 24 hours replaced by José Mourinho.
Mourinho has quite a history of silverware and is well known as ‘the special one’. So why are many fans upset with his appointment and what does it mean for the future of the Champions League finalists?
The Portuguese manager quickly established himself when he was put at the reins of Porto where he built up a squad of players from around Portugal, many of whom would never have been considered by the other big clubs and won trophies and plaudits over two seasons before taking charge of Chelsea.
He brought plenty of trophies to the English club include two league titles in a row after a 50-year drought. From there he went to Italy and brought a treble to Inter Milan before moving again to Real Madrid. There he developed a fierce rivalry with Barcelona and their manager, Pep Guardiola. After three years he returned to Chelsea and won the Premier League again. Mid-way into his third season he left the club and joined Manchester United the next year. After two and a half seasons there he was sacked.
After a break from management Mourinho has returned to management and the Premier League with Tottenham.
Despite a few poor seasons at the end of his reigns Mourinho has won 191 of the 306 Premier League games that he has managed and has won the league three times. Whether the move was a matter off convenience or based on belief in the new manager his experience in the world’s top competitions will be valuable, he knows what is needed of players to take that extra step and win something (an area where Spurs have been lacking). Tottenham have now reached the Champions League round of 16 after making the final last year and Mourinho could be the man to guide them back through the stages.
He has been known in the past to be a big spender, a point of conflict during his stints at Chelsea and Man United. It will be interesting to see if this problem comes up again soon as Tottenham have been rather shrewd spenders the last few years and Mourinho has already been told that he will not be allowed to overhaul the squad come January. That means he will probably be looking to sell where he can and he has already said he is looking forward to working with Tottenham’s academy.
Mourinho has come under fire for tactics perceived as negative, spawning the expression ‘parking the bus’, but Spurs have a history of flowing, more attacking football under Pochettino. He will bring different tactics to Tottenham and use different players. One thing Pochettino was criticised for was not making early substitutions even if things were going quite poorly and Mourinho has already shown he isn’t afraid to do that, removing Eric Dier in the first half of the comeback win over Olympiacos.
So far they have played two games under the new manager with the first against West Ham starting well before they collapsed in the second half and the second having a spectacular second-half comeback. These results show that indeed there is still work to do but there is also the ability to win in the squad. More difficult matches face Mourinho in the month ahead including both of his former EPL clubs and a Champions League game against Bayern Munich.
Speaking of his former clubs Mourinho has previously formed rivalries, and just had confrontations in general, with several managers, players, staff and the media including against fans of his former clubs and their rivals. In some ways that will make his time at Spurs more exciting. Pochettino was mostly a respectful manager who got along well with fans and players, noticeable in their reactions to his departure despite an apparent lack of dressing room cohesion. Mourinho, however, has the potential to ignite rivalries with other clubs that will bring life to games and a drive to win that could be a pushing force behind a more successful Tottenham.
Mourinho has proved himself capable of changing a club’s fortunes pretty quickly and that should be good for Tottenham, any silverware will be appreciated, but one of the biggest criticisms of him is his three-year pattern. It is particularly noticeable at Madrid, Chelsea and Man United. The pattern goes that he will bring two years of success to a club, trophies, big-name players, all sorts of wonderful things. Then in the third year, things start to fall apart. Disagreements build up and performances become poorer until he is forced to leave, rather dramatically in the case of his second stay at Chelsea where they had only 11 points from their first 12 games the season after they’d won the title. That is still potentially a few years away for Spurs but it is on the mind of some already.
Whatever disagreements you may have you can’t argue that he brings results. The win over West Ham was Tottenham’s first league win since September and the Olympiacos result made their first back-to-back competitive wins since April.