Opinion: Mourinho, the story so far

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

A journalist referred to the Chelsea game as being the end of the Jose Mourinho honeymoon period.

While the journalist took obvious glee in this, in my opinion the honeymoon was conceivably over after the Manchester United game.

2 ‘stern’ tests and 2 defeats would suggest that there is plenty for Jose Mourinho to do at Tottenham if he is to deliver the trophies that are usually associated with his tenure.

While the press are itching to write off Jose as a dated manager I feel that the appointment of a young fresh back room team will ultimately prove he is anything but. This could however prove to be one of his toughest assignments yet.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of both games was the comprehensive nature of the defeats. Couple this with the fact that both teams are a ‘shadow’of their former selves that used to defeat Spurs with some regularity.

I think perhaps the thing that causes me the most disappointment in the defeat against Chelsea was the fact that Mourinho (who had bemoaned the lack of time on the training pitch) had a week to prepare his team.

With this in mind I naively didn’t expect a defeat let alone the complete mauling that was suffered.

Outplayed, outfought and simply out thought in every department 

Jose will be smarting that the ‘Master’ has been out manoeuvred by the ‘Apprentice’.

Paulo Gazzaniga
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Whether the game would have been different had Gazzaniga decided against a ‘full Cantona’ on the stroke of halftime (I personally have my doubts) but the timing of the 2nd goal did hurt.

Incidentally a major gaffe by the referee in originally awarding Spurs a free kick. The 17,000 in the South Stand fully aware of the impending VAR decision without the need to check the screen.

Also, despite his understandable public support of the player, Mourinho needs to have a quiet word with Son. A very ‘soft’ but petulant kick out that you simply can’t get away with these days irrespective of the force used. Curiously the violent conduct resulted in a throw in for Spurs!  I still can’t fathom the rationale by Spurs for an appeal that was ultimately unsuccessful.

A potentially damaging kick-out not just for this game but also the busy 3 game Christmas period that the player misses. Add to this the suspensions for the Norwich game of Winks and Sissoko, the lack of discipline is costing the team at the moment.

While Winks was unlucky against Brighton, Sissoko’s petulant push and subsequent booking ruling him out of the Norwich game was very disappointing.

Rather curiously Ndombele seemingly ruled himself out of contention for the Brighton game but put in one of the better performances against Norwich.  So far the Frenchman has proved something of an enigma, however I guess we shouldn’t forget Poch’s opinion that it may take 2 years in the Premier league for the player to reach his full potential.

It’s also positive that both Sessegnon and Lo Celso have got minutes in the last few games meaning all three summer signings took to the pitch against Norwich.  There is a strong chance that the latter will complete his transfer so like it or not, Mourinho needs to find a way of getting the most out of him.  Sessegnon’s youthful exuberance and versatility are likely to make him a Mourinho favourite.

A 4 point haul from the last 2 games in December wasn’t disastrous but a team with top 4 aspirations should be going to the bottom team and expecting 3 points. However following the Chelsea debacle a response was needed.  While the performances may not have been mesmerising it was important to avoid defeat.

The performances against Brighton and Norwich (and Wolves earlier in the month) are either a sign of new found steel under Mourinho or a symptom of the continued struggles that have blighted the team in 2019.  I guess it depends if your glass is half full or half empty.  We mustn’t forget however that the best team in world at the moment are 10 points clear at the top of the league with a lot of their victories coming courtesy of odd goal wins.  The old adage is if you can win games playing poorly…….

The sight of a sodden Harry Kane leaving the pitch against Brighton epitomised the commitment of a player leading from the front at the moment.  The general feeling is that he can play number 9 or number 10 to a world class standard – in some cases he plays both positions in the same game.  We are lucky to have him.

Being frank there was only one positive for me in the Chelsea game and that was the display of Davinson Sanchez. He is now playing under Mourinho as he did in his first full season under Pochettino. He looks a player that is playing with the confidence of knowing he is one of the managers first picks. Davinson played the game against Chelsea with the intensity and commitment of a London derby sadly not replicated by many of his team mates.

Davinson Sanchez
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Ironically Sanchez was I assume rested against Norwich and his presence was sorely missed with Juan Foyth struggling to deputise for the Columbian.  Although it must be difficult with Foyth coming into the game with very little playing time this season.

You don’t get to be an Argentinian full back without something in your locker although curiously this isn’t a position that Poch and subsequently Mourinho seem to fancy him in.

Other undoubted positives under Mourinho being Dele Alli finding his goal-scoring boots, a new contact for Toby Alderweirald and also a consistency in team selection that was missing during the last season of Pochettino’s reign.

A defence that seems to be getting leakier by the game must be Mourinho’s priority.  This will be irking the Portuguese Manager as this is something that he and his teams have prided themselves on.

As suspected the issues Poch experienced haven’t gone away overnight with the change of Manager.  Surgery to the squad is essential with the offload of players equally as important as new recruits.

My comments regarding Serge Aurier seem to fluctuate as much as the Ivorian’s performances.  He had a brief renaissance under Mourinho but sadly his recent performances have shown that he isnt consistent enough for a team with at the very least top 4 aspirations.

To be honest we have never replaced Kyle Walker.

Victor Wanyama is another who hasnt been near a squad for months and if isnt going to be given a chance is a drain on the wage bill.

If Eriksen has made up his mind to leave then he should. In January. Although tantalisingly the Dane is still capable of turning a game, the free kick at Norwich proving he still possesses a rare quality that Spurs will undoubtedly miss.

However it’s not always easy to sell players as Spurs found to their cost in the summer. It’s not always easy to find buyers, especially at Levy prices.

Left back is an interesting spot. We potentially have an embarrassment of riches with Sessengnon, Vertonghen, Davies and Rose able to play there. However a young marauding full back in my opinion would be a sound investment.

You only need to look at how Liverpool play to realise what an important role full back is in the modern game with Trent Alexander Arnold amazingly running games from this position!

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

So as we start a new decade there is so much to be positive about.  A World Class stadium and training facility delivered, a last 16 Champions League tie to look forward to and a shiny new manager who delivers trophies wherever he manages.  I can’t help feeling that this is a pivotal time for the club with a new rebuilding project about to get underway.  Although similar to when Pochetino embarked on the start of his successful project, the major difference being the very firm foundations to build on that were laid by the successful Argentinian.  

So as we near the end of the decade it was pointed out to me that the ‘last kick of the decade’ was a Christian Eriksen corner that failed to beat the first man.  While I won’t be using this as an opportunity to bash the Dane I see this as a metaphor for Spurs over the last decade (and probably beyond). 

A positive position but ultimately failing to deliver……………..

Here’s to that changing in 2020 and silverware ultimately being delivered.  COYS

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