I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks as I’ve been finishing writing my sequel to Eye on the Ball, I am hoping to release it in June. In that time there have been a few things that have caught my eye, but the continued slide by Tottenham has been the most eye catching. In December 2018 Manchester United released the following statement:
Manchester United decided to sack Jose Mourinho because they were unhappy with a lack of progress in form, style of play and development of their young players.
I remember reading this and thinking that it was fair comment. I now look at Mourinho at Spurs and think it is pretty much valid now too.
There are a number of reasons why I have always thought that Mourinho was a bad fit for Tottenham. Below are just two.
- Style of play- Spurs history
I have always seen Spurs, and ManchesterUnited, as having a certain amount of history with regards to the way they play football. They have been teams that play with flair and look to attack. Their history is littered with players like Hoddle, Ardiles, Waddle, Gazza, Ginola and I could go on. They have attracted a particular fanbase due to this too. Fans who enjoy football for being the beautiful game. Old Trafford is called the Theatre of dreams and Tottenham’s motto is “To do is to dare” like all teams they demand success but how they get it is important too. Mourinho has a style alien to both those clubs. He looks to get an early lead then sit back and defend it. Against most opponents his first instinct is to stop them from playing rather than look at what his side can do. The majority of fans at these clubs will not accept that. Against the top five maybe, but not week in week out. Trying to see out games against clearly inferior opposition does not sit well at these clubs, in fact Rot Hodgson lost his job at Liverpool for that exact reason. The problem he has at Spurs is also the quality of the player. The defence they have now is nowhere near the level of three or four years ago. If you look to defend for long periods of time, you can’t make mistakes. The current squad is littered with mistakes. When he was in his prime at Chelsea and Inter Milan part of his strength was the fact he got world class players to sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. Mistakes were few and far between, they could also go back through the gears and get important goals when needed. For this Spurs side they struggle to change mentality from defence to attack. They need a manager who will develop them and trust them. Improving them so that they get the most from them. Mourinho is not that sort of manager.
- Development of players
In 16 months can you name one Spurs player who has improved? Pep Guardiola has thrown money at his defence but when you look at his players their development is clear. Sterling and Foden two great examples. Mourinho is the opposite. Look at the plight of Deli Ali. Throughout his career Mourinho has fallen out with players. At the previous clubs he has been able to discard these players as they have spent fortunes bringing in new players, at Spurs he cannot do that. Look at him now turning to Ali and Bale against Manchester City. Imagine how much stronger the Spurs squad would be right now had these two talents been managed properly and had their match fitness been at the level it should be with a decent run of games. It’s very hard for players to get to their best levels when they are in and out of the side. His recent policy of rotating the defence has not helped either.
I hope it is not too late for Mourinho to change. He is good in the transfer market, but normally on bigger budgets (he spent 380 million at Manchester United and left them at 8th place). If he could be old Mourinho against the top sides and in big matches and be more expansive against the other teams he could still be a real asset at the club. If he doesn’t alienate them in the meantime! Just one more piece of food for thought if you are a Spurs fan. Harry Kane is 28 now and yet to win a major trophy…