Opinion: Mourinho seems to have done the impossible by winning over Spurs fans

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The last two weeks certainly feel like a watershed moment in Jose Mourinho’s reign as Tottenham Hotspur boss.

The Portuguese coach’s appointment back in November of last year was a controversial call, not only because of how popular Mauricio Pochettino was among the Spurs fan base but also because Mourinho seemed at odds with the club’s ethos.

After all, we as Spurs fans have always taken pride in playing football the right way and taking the game to the opposition, even though we have been starved of recent success.

Mourinho, on the other hand, is as diametrically opposed to that ethos as it gets, with the 57-year-old being proud of his reputation as a pragmatic winner and often insisting that the only thing that matters in football was trying to win.

Given the philosophical clash, it was inevitable that there would be resistance to Mourinho from sections of the fan base and that was how it proved.

Some fans have kept insisting since Mourinho arrived at North London that they cannot get behind him due to uninspiring style of football and that any silverware won playing in that manner would not be worth it.

Others, however, insisted that the club needed a change of culture and that they would accept pragmatic football if that meant that the team could end their trophy drought.

This debate hits at the heart of why one starts supporting a football team in the first place – whether to see your club become the best one day or simply because one values the experiences that football can bring (both the highs and lows).

I can certainly sympathise with those that believe the latter as for someone like me, who lives more than 5000 miles away from N17, seeing my club win things certainly was not what got me hooked to the Lilywhites almost two decades ago.

However, the main premise of that argument has been built on two complete strawman positions. Firstly, it is possible to desperately want your team to win trophies and still not have ‘winning by all costs’ as the club’s main identity.

Secondly, the characterisation of Mourinho as a football pragmatist whose sides always play defensive football is grossly unfair.

The one thing that is abundantly clear with the Spurs boss is that he wears his heart on his sleeve like no other manager in world football, and to me, that is what being a football purist is about, rather than subscribing to a specific style of play.

One just needs to look at how much Mourinho is hated by the rivals of the teams he has managed (Juve fans, Barca fans etc.) to realise that he fully becomes a club man when he arrives through the door.

Additionally, people tend to forget that his Real Madrid side (putting aside what they won) still hold the record for the most goals scored and most points accumulated in a single season in the history of La Liga.

His Inter Milan side were also top scorers in both of his seasons in Italy, while the Chelsea side he had in his first spell also cannot be accused of being shy of goals.

Mourinho is a manager who aims to get the best out of the squad he has at his disposal, and now that he has a fully fit squad to work with, there are once again signs that he has built a system that gets the best out of his attacking players.

Over the last few weeks, it seems like the opinion among the Spurs fan base has shifted with regards to Mourinho, owing to the football we have been playing.

Of course, there are some who still refuse to give the Spurs boss any credit and have decided that they will die on the anti-Mourinho hill.

One podcaster recently got a lot of flak on social media from Spurs fans for claiming that he would not swap the peak two years we had under Pochettino for ten trophies under Mourinho.

Every single fan has their own reasons for falling in love with Spurs and someone’s relationship with their club is personal, and so I do not have any issue with those who fell that way.

However, it is clear based on the reaction to not just that comment but to anti-Mourinho fans in general, that the tide has turned among the Tottenham fan base.

The majority of Spurs fans now seem to be fully behind Mourinho on the back of some of the recent wins, and the power of having fans onboard cannot be underestimated, especially since Mourinho often relies on building a siege mentality around clubs in order to succeed.

Only time will tell if Mourinho will go on to win trophies at Spurs and his relationship with the Tottenham fan base might well sour in a year or two.

However, for the time being, he has accomplished what looked to be an impossible task just a few months ago – getting the majority fans on his side.

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