Mourinho Likely Revising Judgement on Spurs Squad

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Mourinho applauds Spurs fans after first game against West Ham in November

Now, with top four hopes fading fast and no FA Cup to compete for, next Tuesday’s second leg in Germany looks astronomically important, as Spurs seemingly have one game to extend their season by another two.

After a fourth straight defeat last night, beaten by Norwich to end Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes, Jose Mourinho is probably now realising that his Spurs squad is not as good as he thought it was.

When appointed head coach in November, following Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking, Mourinho was brimming with praise for the playing staff that he would be inheriting at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But fast forward two-and-a-half months, and a combination of injuries and several disappointing results against immediate rivals, both domestically and in Europe, will surely have the Portuguese re-assessing what he has at his disposal.

“I would love to be on the first of July, but I am not”, Mourinho said last month after defeat to RB Leipzig in the Champions League last 16 first leg, the first loss of Spurs’ current slump. Stark contrast to his sentiments right at the beginning of his reign.

On 21st November 2019, Mourinho said: “Players… the best gift are the ones that are here. I don’t need players, I am happy with the players that I have. I just need time to understand them better to know everything about them.”

Of course he has lost Harry Kane. Son Heung-Min is also a huge miss, plus Moussa Sissoko, who Mourinho named as a particular loss within those post-Lepizig comments. But when appointing a so-called super coach like him, a club and its supporters do expect such problems to be navigated slightly better.

That is what he is paid so handsomely to do after all.

The truth is the slide at Tottenham started long before this season. Form has been no more than satisfactory for at least 12 months, as alluded to in The Year Ends in 1 (YE1) podcast prior to the Leipzig match (https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ye1-on-location-spurs-vs-rb-leipzig/id1474531217?i=1000466284995).

The YE1 team all but agreed that the 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, at the same stage of the Champions League last season, was in fact the last truly convincing Spurs display.

It is another discussion altogether whether or not Pochettino was afforded due backing for his achievements in N17, but what should not be levelled at Mourinho is any kind of suggestion that the poor results of late are a new phenomenon.

Pochettino lost 13 Premier League matches last season, and won just three games from the middle of February. Form which has translated into this campaign under both bosses.

However, that is not to say that Mourinho could or should not be doing better. Why has the defence not improved? Why can he not adapt and find a way of playing without a recognised striker? Especially when he said what he did in November about the quality of the squad.

No manager can ever afford to walk into a club and believe that he cannot do more than the previous guy. But Pochettino also had periods without both Kane and Son. Not so much the double blow, but did nonetheless have to negotiate key absences.

Dele Alli too from last August to October.

Without Kane, there is no guarantee of goals. Not even when Son is available. Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela, Son, Alli and now Steven Bergwijn; they are all extremely talented, yet highly inconsistent players who excite supporters when their names appear on a team sheet.

But by half-time, fans in the stands, their armchairs and on Twitter are calling for changes, and whomever has not started is suddenly the answer; forgetting that they had not delivered from the beginning the previous week.

The loyal Tottenham fan base will have hoped that Mourinho’s side, clearly in transition, could limp over the line into next season’s Champions League, perhaps scooping a trophy too.

But in reality, the current campaign is sadly looking more and more like a write-off, and that serious attacking reinforcements are required, while stalwartly defensive assets like Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Danny Rose (out on loan at Newcastle) in fact do not have the second wind in them that they might have had.

Also, forget not that Christian Eriksen has gone, whose stats throughout his six-and-a-half years at Spurs are not to be scoffed at…

On Eriksen, I do have my own theory as to why he wanted to leave England, which goes beyond football. Feel free to DM me @SimRJWright on Twitter to find out what that is.

Now, with top four hopes fading fast and no FA Cup to compete for, next Tuesday’s second leg in Germany looks astronomically important, as Spurs seemingly have one game to extend their season by another two.