OUT WITH THE OLD... ?
Updated: Dec 22, 2019
José Mourinho is Tottenham Hotspurs' New Manager
One would think that Mauricio Pochettino was André Villas-Boas all those years ago, a
manager perhaps out of his depth at a big club. That is not really fair. Villas-Boas is often maligned but has had success as a manager. More relevantly, Mauricio Pochettino is a fantastic manager and a different breed as well, in comportment, in style and in history. However, the manner in which Pochettino’s departure has been discussed in some circles is as if we have forgotten the progress Tottenham made under him. He made them into a consistent Champions League team, helped develop world class players and turned them into genuine title contenders.
Unfortunately, they could never quite get over the hump. Now with him gone and the legendary José Mourinho in charge and with a result-filled bright start, there appears to be hope once again on the horizon.
However, this team is at an end of a cycle. Danny Rose has been at the club twelve years, Harry Kane eight years, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris seven years, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela six years, Eric Dier, Dele and Heung-min Son five years, and Toby Alderweireld four years. Every single one of those players have played a key role at one point or another in Spurs’ rise but they cannot all be expected to continue to (or, in some cases, once again) play that same role in the future, not for this team. It has been too long, with too little success.
In the modern game, particularly with such a demanding manager in such a demanding environment for a club that has had very little playing staff turnover throughout the year, in hindsight the outcome is not shocking.
Tension built with players, coaching staff and executives. The coaching staff may be new but the players are still there and that is where the symptomatic issues lie.
José Mourinho has won, is a champion. He has been to the mountaintop and down but he has also had riches, working with two of the wealthiest clubs in the world and has consistently been working for a powerhouse wherever he has been ever since his FC Porto days (a powerhouse indeed in Portugal). He is used to fighting from above with mentality of someone fighting from below and accomplishing fantastic results. Now, he is at a club that is easily behind others in the country.
The playing staff needs serious rejuvenation. It is not enough that the players will hear a new voice, several new voices with the assistants. Some of these players are starting to slow down and some do not appear to have the same hunger, desire or loyalty for the team. Tottenham failed to win a title under Pochettino, the players earn less than their counterparts in other clubs, bigger clubs have come circling around their players and their performances have alarmingly dipped. This makes for a recipe of discontent that can eventually lead to disaster. Some would say for Pochettino it did, although it could be more than reasonably debated that he is rather satisfied to have left Tottenham in this manner.
Mourinho arrives with a cabinet full of trophies and accolades to a team full of players that have barely won anything. Players that have not been to the mountaintop (except for Lloris) and players that might not stay. The goal would be (and was) to create funds by selling players but that would be complicated to say the least. They may be moved on but Alderweireld, Vertongthen and Eriksen can leave at the end of the season on a free. Potentially, to rivals. Danny Rose has been unsettled for approximately 352 years and Giovani Lo Celso is only there on loan. They also have another batch of players (Rose included) with expiring contracts in the summer of 2021. If Tottenham were looking to purchase players with the sales of a select few of their gems, time may have run out (and they were but mishandled it ; a story for another time). In fact, time has almost certainly run out. The saving grace is that with some of these players gone, if not all, that clears up wages for new signings. Daniel Levy though has not shown himself to be one to spend vigorously, something José Mourinho has had in many of his clubs. This paints quite the portrait and indicates that this marriage of convenience may not go as well as either hope.
Rumors suggest that Tottenham may be up for sale. There may be no more well-known and conversation-inspiring manager in world football than José Mourinho. A London club with an iconic manager with a point to prove, a world class British striker and England captain, an under-appreciated and bankable star in Heung-min Son (particularly in his home of South Korea) and a young starlet in Dele perfectly molded for the social media age, Tottenham may have just become infinitely more attractive to any potential buyers.
That may be the only way this alliance works. Unless you believe that José Mourinho still has that special magic and that he has indeed learned from his time at United (and hopefully from his time at Real Madrid and Chelsea). He and Tottenham took a calculated risk on each other and now we will see if he still has the formula.