Euro 2020 Special

Premier League: What We’ve Learned from Jose Mourinho’s Time at Tottenham

It’s been just over four months since Jose Mourinho took over at Tottenham Hotspur following Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking. After a remarkable run to the Champions League final the previous season, Spurs saw a precipitous decline in their performance, particularly in the Premier League.

The club clearly needed a change. But even when he was being linked to with Spurs, there were doubts as to whether Mourinho was the right man to lead Spurs forward considering how disastrously his last two stints had gone.

And mere months into his reign, it seems painfully clear to this SBOTOP scribe that Mourinho has not learned any lessons from his previous failed stints at Chelsea and Manchester United. His fatal flaws as a manager remain, and Spurs have more tough decisions to make in the summer.

Back in November, though, there was at least some hope at Tottenham that the ‘Special One’ still had it. They won four of his first five games in charge, with Spurs playing some exciting, high-scoring football that Mourinho hasn’t been associated with in some time.

Dele Alli immediately flourished in that No. 10 role upon Mourinho’s appointment and was starting to score goals more consistently.

Spurs hit a rough patch after that, which wasn’t helped by Harry Kane suffering a serious hamstring injury on New Year’s Day. To Mourinho’s credit, he would rally his troops and improve their Premier League 2020 results. They would go on a run of seven matches unbeaten, which included a big home win over Manchester City.

Without Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur haven't been performing well in the Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane goes off the pitch after sustaining an injury during a match against Southampton

But when Spurs’ second most-reliable goalscorer, Heung-Min Son, also went down with a fractured arm, the wheels quickly came off as they lost five of their last six matches prior to the coronavirus shutdown. They crashed out of both the FA Cup and the Champions League and tumbled down to eighth in the league.

Clearly, not all of Spurs’ struggles this season have been down to Mourinho. The club’s failure to refresh an ageing squad during the previous transfer windows has contributed significantly to the many deficiencies within the side. The injuries to two key players in Kane and Son would also hit any club quite hard.

However, Mourinho has also displayed some of the off-the-pitch qualities that made his time at Manchester United untenable. Without question, the biggest example of this has been his treatment of Tanguy Ndombele.

The French midfielder was one of Spurs’ marquee summer signings as they broke their transfer record to acquire him. Unfortunately, his debut season has not lived up to his hefty price tag, in part due to a troublesome groin injury.

Mourinho wasn’t having any of that, though. Instead of trying to build up the shattered confidence of the club’s record signing in order to get the best out of him, the Spurs boss has reverted to his old tactic of blasting his own player in public.

Mourinho also threw the rest of the Tottenham team under the bus following their round-of-16 loss to Leipzig, saying all the players on Leipzig’s bench would make his Spurs side.

The likes of Manchester United’s Luke Shaw and Fred were also on the receiving end of Mourinho’s “tough love” treatment, and few would argue that it did them or the club much good in the long run.

Whether it’s in the club’s best interest or not, it seems Mourinho has not changed a bit and is intent on doing things his way. If that means potentially alienating a massive investment like Ndombele, so be it.

Given his track record, it was hard not to see this coming. Granted, Mourinho would often go nuclear during his third season, but it was only going to end one way with him.

The question for Spurs now is whether they will decide to keep Mourinho and hand him the funds to rebuild the squad in the summer. But what happens when he almost inevitably falls out with one of those big-money signings like he did with Ndombele?

At this point, we’ve learned that ‘The Special One’ has transformed into an increasingly toxic manager who has no longer been able to bring the on-field success to justify his antics. Tottenham jeopardise both their present and their future by keeping Mourinho in charge, which is why they must move on from him as soon as possible.




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