Paul Merson offers damning verdict on Jose Mourinho’s time at Tottenham


Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has once again taken the opportunity to criticise Tottenham Hotspur.

After a difficult start to the new season which saw Spurs in the unfamiliar position of fourteenth in the Premier League, Daniel Levy decided to make the decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino and replace him with Jose Mourinho in late November.

The Portuguese has lifted the North Londoners to fifth in the table and closed the gap on rivals Chelsea who occupy fourth place to four points.

Merson has criticised head coach Jose Mourinho by claiming that he has not improved the Champions League finalists form.

The Sky Sports pundit believes that Mourinho’s honeymoon period which saw him interacting with mascots and ballboys whilst being all smiles is over and he is now showing his old traits by replacing Jan Vertonghen early in the second half in the nervy FA Cup win against Southampton on Wednesday night.

In his column for the Daily Star, Merson said: “Jose Mourinho has NOT improved Tottenham and after Jan Vertonghen’s strop it looks like Manchester United all over again.

“I said when he went there it would give them a lift and there would be a charm offensive – and he was all smiles for a while.

“But everyone knew it wouldn’t last, didn’t they? He’s gone back to being Grumpy Mourinho again. And I don’t see how he’s improved them at all. Not one bit.

“He looks like he’s thinking: “What have I done coming here?” You don’t see him high-fiving ball boys now do you?

“Spurs are a million miles away at the moment and they don’t have much money to spend. They didn’t buy him a striker and they won’t be breaking the bank in the next few windows either.

“Mourinho is only there to get them into the top four. I can’t see Daniel Levy wanting to win the FA Cup but not get back into the Champions League.

“But it’s not really working, is it? Chelsea are in the driving seat to finish fourth and I can’t see Spurs catching them right now.

“They are a very lucky football team at the moment because they’ve been ripped to shreds in their last two matches but still managed to win.

“I can stomach Manchester City ripping you apart. But Southampton? Come on. They could have been blown away in that game and even Mourinho admitted the best team lost.

“What happened with Veronghen just seems to sum the whole thing up for me. I would like to have been a fly on the wall in that dressing room!

“He looked like he was doing well to bite his tongue when he got taken off and he sat there on the bench looking absolutely gutted.

“Hopefully he digested it and didn’t go ballistic but it looked like Mourinho was sending a message not just to him but to the whole team by doing that.

“It was like he was saying: “Don’t mess with me. You’re one of my most experienced players but I can still take you off. I’m in charge.”

“He kept the kid Japhet Tanganga on, and he was at fault for one of the goals. When he could have taken Tanganga off and played Vertonghen there.

“Vertonghen must have been fuming about that.

“Remember when Mourinho humiliated Eric Dier by taking him off early in a game? He could not have apologised more afterwards.

“Things seem different now. It’s starting again, isn’t it? All the issues he had at United. He’s having them at Spurs now.

“I don’t think it will work for him there. That Southampton game was like an end-of-his-Old-Trafford-reign performance.

“Saints just played through them as if they weren’t there. Nobody was tracking runners or competing at all.

“You worry for the Spurs fans because it doesn’t look good. It didn’t look like the players were giving everything for the manager to me.

“And that’s just what happened at United – as soon as he left they were all running around like blue-arsed flies for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer winning games left right and centre.

“But if Spurs play like they did this week at Chelsea at the end of February they can kiss goodbye to any chance they had of a top-four finish.

“I’m not surprised Mourinho had a moan about not getting a striker. He needs one. But I never thought they were going to spend big on someone who sits on the bench when Harry Kane is fit.

“They’ve just built a new stadium. They don’t have that kind of money to waste.

“It’s all very well him saying he could play two up front if they found him someone good enough to play with Kane.

“But Kane’s played as the lone striker for most of his career now. I don’t think he’d find it that easy to suddenly change. And I don’t think Mourinho was serious anyway.

“When was the last time he ever played with two centre-forwards? He probably just said it to put pressure on the board.

“It all just smacks of a disaster waiting to happen because he might have looked happy when he went there but he certainly isn’t now, and Spurs won’t be either if he doesn’t get them in the top four…”

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