This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
As Jose Mourinho prepares for his first match as Tottenham Hotspur manager, thoughts turn to how he might set his team up against West Ham United.
Ironically enough, his first match will mirror Pochettino’s; the former Southampton manager beat the Hammers at Upton Park in his maiden competitive outing.
How will Mourinho line up, though?
Transfermarkt list the Portuguese’s favoured formation as 4-2-3-1 and he utilised that on 46 occasions in the Premier League for Manchester United, out of a possible 93 outings. That is almost exactly half.
One has to assume, then, that he may well revert to type rather than trying to experiment from the off.
Indeed, following his appointment, Mourinho used that very system in his first eight matches as United manager.
Thus, we can assume that Paulo Gazzaniga will play in goal; Hugo Lloris is injured and Michel Vorm hasn’t played a single second since his reintroduction to the club.
The back four selection will be interesting but Mourinho has previously coveted Toby Alderweireld – Sky Sports journalist Peter Hall claimed on the Transfer Talk podcast, via talkSPORT, that the Portuguese’s desire to sign him was vetoed by the club’s board.
Mourinho has had success with ageing defenders before, including the likes of Ricardo Carvalho and Walter Samuel, meaning Jan Vertonghen could get the nod alongside him.
Serge Aurier has been erratic at best this season – he was sent off against Southampton and conceded a brainless penalty versus Liverpool – but he may be given the chance to prove his worth, along with Danny Rose on the other flank.
Eric Dier could be a major winner from Mourinho’s move as the Portuguese wanted him when he was at Manchester United; he may start this weekend despite making just three league appearances thus far this term.
Tanguy Ndombele, too, fits the profile of a strong ball-carrier in midfield and partnering him with Dier would make sense for the Portuguese.
Further forward, it remains to be seen if Mourinho will give Christian Eriksen a chance, despite him publicly seeking a move in the summer. Dele Alli is the other option to play in the role and we think he’ll go for the Englishman, purely due to his superior athleticism and energy.
Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane should, really, be undroppable – they have scored half of Tottenham’s Premier League goals this season – but it remains to be seen who will play on the right.
Lucas Moura is an option, while Giovani Lo Celso offers the opportunity to cut inside and employ a wide playmaker.
If fit, we think Erik Lamela will be given the nod because of the aggression he brings to the team, but as he’s still an injury doubt, Lo Celso could be kept in the side purely due to the fact he recently netted against Red Star Belgrade.
Moura’s last Spurs goal was back in September.
Overall then, that’s three changes from Pochettino’s final XI as Tottenham boss, with Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko and Davinson Sanchez all dropped.