Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham future heading in one direction with Daniel Levy expected to make call
Tottenham Hotspur have struggled in recent months and there is a growing belief within the club that Jose Mourinho’s time at the club will come to an endSHARE
- BY ALASDAIR GOLD
- 12:56, 17 APR 2021UPDATED15:41, 17 APR 2021
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There is a growing belief within Tottenham Hotspur that Jose Mourinho will not be at the club next season, football.london understands.
Tottenham have had a rotten time in 2021 and look set to miss out on Champions League qualification for a second consecutive season, having previously played in the competition for four campaigns in a row.https://c6b9025fb5bd6b04e814638743c44d0e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
With six games left, Mourinho‘s side are five points off fourth-placed West Ham who had their own problems at Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon, but Chelsea and Liverpool also sit above Spurs with a game in hand and the initiative, while Everton could still overtake the north London club with their own game in hand.
Mourinho’s side have lost seven of their 14 Premier League games since that day, winning just five matches and drawing two, conceding 21 goals, just one less than they have scored.
On top of that Tottenham exited the FA Cup in the fifth round with a defeat at Everton and then came that embarrassing collapse in Croatia as they threw away a 2-0 first leg lead to lost 3-2 on aggregate at Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.https://d-3812048811624051584.ampproject.net/2104022034000/frame.html
Mourinho was brought to the north London club to build upon what Mauricio Pochettino had done with his three top three finishes, including one second place, ahead of the fourth place finish and historic Champions League final appearance in the Argentine’s last full campaign.https://player.daznservices.com/player/v4/assets/amp-iframe-loader.html#6345b443e2192e5564ba30abc7.y34vu6acsp9x1pu8t337ybx5r$s=1
Mourinho was tasked by chairman Daniel Levy with blowing a fresh wind through a club that had gone stale in that final campaign in the wake of the crushing disappointment of the defeat in Madrid.https://c6b9025fb5bd6b04e814638743c44d0e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
He told the Portuguese at the club’s Christmas party a month after his appointment that his wishlist that first season was a top four place and a trophy.
While Mourinho initially got a reaction from the Tottenham players, the result 17 months on from his appointment is a Spurs side that is neither an improvement on what came before nor a true Mourinho team.
There has been an overhaul of sorts of the squad during his time at the club, with nine new players coming through the doors – many of whom specifically targeted as ‘Mourinho types’ – and some stalwarts such as Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen and Victor Wanyama moved on.
Mourinho’s camp will say that more needed to be done and the ‘painful rebuild’ Pochettino himself once spoke about needed to be implemented, although the numbers of players signed since the Argentine’s statement show that the quantity of signings has been there, if not always the quality, and the problem has sat more in the inability to move players on to enable more of a revamp.
The Portuguese’s decisions over certain players has also caused strain behind the scenes with Dele Alli a mere onlooker this season, along with England international Harry Winks and most notably Gareth Bale.
The Welshman, like Mourinho, had long been a target for Levy, but the two men have clearly not been a match made in heaven, with Bale often watching matches from the sidelines despite a purple patch of goals and assists when he did get a run in the team this year.
Others have also found themselves out of the picture for long periods, with signings during the Mourinho era such as Steven Bergwijn and Carlos Vinicius struggling for game time in the Premier League.https://c6b9025fb5bd6b04e814638743c44d0e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier, who both penned new deals in reaction to the Portuguese’s arrival, have spent plenty of time watching on, as has Davinson Sanchez and Spurs’ last signing Joe Rodon, as Mourinho has failed to find a centre-back pairing he is happy with.
Club record signing Tanguy Ndombele had a fractious relationship with Mourinho in his first season before the pair worked through their issues for this campaign, while Danny Rose has sat out the last year of his contract without a place in the club’s squad.
Mourinho’s team decisions would have brought little dissent had the results on the pitch showcased why he was right to make certain calls.
However, other than that brief stint at the summit of the Premier League in December, Tottenham have been disappointing with an overwhelming feeling that Harry Kane has dragged them up the table almost single-handedly with his 31 goals and 16 assists in 43 matches.
With Kane’s own future in doubt once again, the fear of what could happen if he were allowed to leave the club has never been greater with the gaping hole he would leave in the team, whatever the huge money recouped from his sale.
The style of football has also caused concern within the club and outside its walls with those fans once desperate for silverware now just desperate to enjoy football matches again.
It has been some time since there has been such a disconnect between the fans and the club and it is unclear whether their absence from matches has only increased that feeling or in fact aided Mourinho’s tenure because they would have been very vocal about what has been served up on the pitch.
Friday’s draw at Everton saw Mourinho select five defenders and two defensive midfielders in front of Hugo Lloris in a bid to solve Spurs’ leaky defence, but it only detracted from the visitors’ attacking display and they still conceded twice at Goodison Park.
With eight defensive personnel on the pitch and just three attacking players in Kane, Son Heung-min and Ndombele, Tottenham’s bench was overstuffed with attacking talent as Bale, Alli, Giovani Lo Celso, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura all took their place among the substitutes, while Bergwijn and Vinicius could not even get into the squad.
The Mourinho era could yet yield a trophy, if Tottenham can upset the odds next weekend in the Carabao Cup final in front of 2,000 of their fans, against Premier League leaders Manchester City.
The club are currently sweating over how Kane’s right ankle reacts in the aftermath of yet another unfortunate injury, with Richarlison falling on it late in the match and forcing the England captain off.
He walked to the team coach outside the stadium gingerly but without any precautionary protective boot or crutches and all eyes will now be on how the ankle responds in the days ahead as it is still too early to tell.
For Mourinho, the cup final at Wembley represents a chance to bring a rare piece of silverware to Tottenham and some justification for his style, but the inability to get the club back into the top four in a season when Spurs’ pandemic-hit finances desperately needed the huge boost looks to be costly not only to the club but the head coach’s tenure.
There is a growing belief inside the club that Tottenham will begin next season without Mourinho at the helm but Levy will know that his next move must be the correct one.
He chased Mourinho for more than two decades and made a huge call in replacing Pochettino, popular with the players and majority of fans.
In those final months of his five-and-a-half year era, the Argentine was not the same inspirational, uniting figure he had been in previous seasons, rocked by the Champions League final defeat to Liverpool and there was a sense that he had taken the club as far as he could with the tools at his disposal.
Mourinho’s appointment was box office gold for the club and his track record suggested that he would be able to bring the trophies to Tottenham and take them to that next level they craved.
It has not worked out that way and while he has frequently publicly praised the squad at his disposal, he has never truly looked happy with it and that is shown in the constant tinkering with his side.
Captain Lloris admitted after the defeat in Zagreb that the togetherness at the club was no longer there and that some players not in the starting line-up had spent too much time complaining rather than supporting the team.
While Mourinho is not believed to have ‘lost the dressing room’, despite freezing out some of the squad’s big personalities, it is clear that he is not getting the best out of what he has.
While the need for a new centre-back or two, particularly a leader, will be pressing this summer, there is plenty of quality within the squad if the club can play to their strengths once again.
Tottenham need someone who can coach the best out of their players rather than require a big outlay on new signings.
Who will be at the helm for the 2021/22 season remains to be seen. Julian Nagelsmann has admirers at Tottenham but Bayern Munich also have eyes on the young RB Leipzig boss.
Brendan Rodgers is another held in high regard by some at Spurs, although reports that former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is a managerial target are believed to be wide of the mark.
If, as expected, Mourinho does depart before next season begins, then Tottenham must make sure their next step is the right one and it’s important that the club also looks at itself and asks whether – despite the stadium construction and now the pandemic – it really pushed and backed its managers at key moments.
One of the game’s most talented young coaches in Pochettino and now one of its most successful and experienced in Mourinho have both failed to lift Spurs to the top level.
Tottenham’s next step, whatever it may be, must be the right one.Follow @Spurs_fl
- Europa League
- FA Cup
- UEFA Champions League
- Jose Mourinho
- Daniel Levy
- Hugo Lloris
- Mauricio Pochettino
- Gareth Bale
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