Opinion: Was Jose Mourinho right all along to ‘park the bus’ at Spurs?

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Jose Mourinho
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Following the limp performances in the defeats by Liverpool, Brighton, Chelsea and Man City, Tottenham fans were begging for more attacking intent from a team that has so much forward talent.

After seeing the defensive disaster class in the defeats to Everton and Man City, as well as the constant individual errors this season, it begs the question, has Mourinho been right all along by playing defensive counter-attacking football?

The style of play Mourinho had Tottenham playing in the first four games and 80 minutes of the Premier League season was superb. Fast-flowing football with goals galore (5 away in the win at Southampton and 6 in the win at Manchester United).

However, what happened in those final 10 mins against West Ham provided a stark reality check for Mourinho.

After that game, it was clear that Mourinho lost faith in his defence to be able to defend in an open style and changed to a more counter-attacking team, with impressive initial results in wins against Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as a point against an in-form Chelsea.

However, the results dried up as teams worked out the style, resulting in just three wins and three draws in the last 12 games.

While the main disappointment is the failure to capitalise on winning positions in the drawn games and the lack of chances created when behind, the reality is that the results could have been so much different had the players not continued to commit individual errors.

That said, I think the FA Cup defeat to Everton confirms that if Tottenham are to go back to the open free-flowing football with the current group of players, they could end up losing more games than those they win.

The constant defensive errors are always going to outweigh the goals scored by Tottenham, even with Harry Kane and Heung Min Son in outrageous form.

Tottenham have one of the better defensive records in the Premier League this season, despite conceding six penalties and two Own Goals, as well as countless other defensive errors.

So, in spite of all the defensive errors leading to goals, Mourinho has managed to ensure damage limitation by reverting to this style which clearly shows there has been method to his madness.

This has come at a cost to the rate at which the team creates chances and therefore has led to calls that his style of play makes Tottenham the ‘worst team to watch in the Premier League’.

In conclusion, the way Mourinho has set up the majority of this season looking to contain and counter-attack teams will continue to polarise opinions amongst the fans given the plethora of attacking talent at the disposal of the manager.

However with Mourinho seeming to have no confidence in the defensive players due to their consistent individual errors, maybe he had his tactics spot on, minimising the number of goals conceded as much as possible while still offering the opportunity to score on the break.

After all, only results will keep Tottenham in the top four hunt and remain involved, for now, in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.

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