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…
Jose Mourinho arrives again.
They say that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist; Mourinho has convinced the world, or, perhaps, just Tottenham, that his flaws are absent, that his priorities are straight and that he can be the man to lead the club into a glorious new era.
We have been here before. Mourinho was meant to take Manchester United back to the promised land. He was supposed to win trophies at will, bring the best out of high-end players like Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku and return the club to their rightful place on top of the Premier League standings.
Instead, he was accused of boring football, never laid a finger on Manchester City, despite one second-place finish that he still ranks as one of his greatest achievements, and alienated the club’s best player, in Pogba. He did win the Europa League but, at the end of the day, was it really worth it?
One has to wonder.
It will be strange, initially, to see the Portuguese back in a dugout, not least one that has been occupied by its previous incumbent for over five years. That is almost a dynastic reign in current footballing terms.
And one has to wonder exactly what Daniel Levy, the chairman who took the decision to fire and hire, is expecting. Is it Champions League football? Is it the promotion of youth? Is it simply a trophy, any trophy, to put in an increasingly dusty cabinet?
If it’s the latter, Mourinho is probably the man. He has won medals wherever he has gone, even in the toxic environment that was festering at United.
But the other two? Spurs are 11 points off the top four already and are facing a major battle to get back into the race, let alone those positions, while Mourinho regularly favours bringing in experienced, ready-made players like Nemanja Matic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez. That’s not the Tottenham way, or at the very least, not the Pochettino way.
This appointment, then, undercuts much of what Pochettino has built.
He fostered unity at Spurs, building a team that was capable of challenging for the title on two occasions all the while promoting the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Harry Winks. His team, at their best, were exhilarating to watch and even harder to play against.
Mourinho has never done that, not really. He’s won things, as previously alluded to, but he has simply stuck the bits together after buying them at expensive rates – he became the first ever manager to spend over £1b on transfers in 2017. Where Pochettino built his teams in his simple garden shed, Mourinho bought his in Ikea.
It remains to be seen if this will work, of course. The experiment is fascinating, and one that seemed far-fetched not all that long ago.
But here we are, with Mourinho at the wheel. He is the antithesis of Pochettino, and this will go one of two very different ways.