Less than a week before their biggest game of the season, Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy pulled the trigger and sensationally sacked Jose Mourinho.
The timing of the move is quite bizarre, given the small matter of their Carabao Cup final clash with Manchester City on Sunday afternoon and perhaps in an even stranger decision, inexperienced former midfielder Ryan Mason, 29, has been given the reins as caretaker boss until the end of the season.
At the start of December, Spurs were sat top of the Premier League and had everything to play for – nobody could’ve predicted the Mourinho era unravelling like this, so quickly and so abruptly.
The Athletic have revealed a long list of reasons why Levy has reacted in this manner in a recent column, most notably how the players were bored of Mourinho’s training methods and how they were unhappy with his scathing criticism.
Dressing room, lost. Effectively.
Levy is also to be said to have feared the loss of as many as ten first-team stars if Mourinho was still in charge come the summer, according to Eurosport’s Dean Jones.
Mason’s shock appointment should instantly change this to bring a breath of fresh air to things around Hotspur Way, and forgotten players such as Dele Alli and Gareth Bale could be handed a lifeline ahead of the summer window.
But forget about either for now, as it is Harry Winks who could benefit most from his former teammate’s involvement.
Both are – or were – very much in the same mould of player, though it is the current Spurs midfielder who is still teeming with untapped potential.
“Harry has the profile of the perfect midfield player,” claimed Mauricio Pochettino to the Evening Standard in September 2018. “His characteristics are perfect. When we talk about midfielders like Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta, he’s like this type of player. He has this capacity but he needs to take my words in a very positive way — he needs a lot of work.”
Under Mourinho, Winks went from a starter, featuring from the off in their opening three Premier League outings this term, to an outcast, subsequently recording only 398 minutes of game time in the top-flight since then.
Given they both came through the academy system, and have featured together before, it would not be a surprise to see the new interim boss turn to the 25-year-old this week.
If Winks features more regularly before the summer transfer window, then his long-term future at the club could well be saved. Reports had emerged suggesting that he would look to force an exit in the summer, but that was under Mourinho, who clearly no longer fancied him.