RIGHT from the start, there were dissenting voices.
The idea was expressed inside Tottenham that Jose Mourinho was an ‘Amazon appointment’.
Jose Mourinho has led Tottenham to just one win in nine matches as their top four hopes look finished[/caption]
Excellent box-office value for the fly-on-the-wall documentary being filmed about the club’s season – but not the right man to rebuild a tired squad on a strictly limited budget.
There was a feeling that Tottenham’s hard-nosed chairman Daniel Levy had been seduced by Mourinho’s high profile and had appointed in haste.
Now, seven and a half months later, it seems Levy may have to repent at leisure.
After one win in nine – an unconvincing one, at home to West Ham – Mourinho’s reign is in turmoil and it is difficult to see a way out.
This is a nightmare scenario for Levy – Spurs have been hit harder than any other Premier League club by the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the opening of their impressive new stadium, they have higher matchday revenues than any other club, and were also banking on a significant income stream from NFL matches and music gigs.
So now, without footfall, Spurs are – at least in Premier League terms – skint.
Perhaps too skint to jettison a failing manager.
Mourinho has three more seasons on his £15million-a-year contract.
Brendan Rodgers – the manager Levy wanted most, and who would have been a far better fit at Spurs – now has five years on his Leicester deal.
Mourinho has a glittering CV but his triumphs at Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and even his limited successes at Manchester United – a Europa League, a League Cup and a Premier League runners-up spot – came after significant investment.
At Spurs that was never going to be the case. Not pre-Covid and certainly not post-Covid.
This is not a manager in tune with Tottenham’s ‘to dare is to do’, ‘glory, glory’ ethos.
There will be no thrilling draws or defeats to console the faithful without the steady diet of victories they had come to expect under Mauricio Pochettino.
At least they believed Mourinho could still successfully organise a defence.
But in Thursday’s 3-1 defeat at a out-of-form Sheffield United, Tottenham’s defending was shambolic.
Before lockdown, Mourinho could moan about injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Moussa Sissoko and keep himself afloat until the summer.
Now, with a fully-fit squad, performances have barely improved.
Spurs were horribly unlucky when Kane’s goal was ruled out by a ridiculous VAR decision against the Blades – yet they benefited from technology in beating West Ham and drawing at home with Manchester United.
Many senior players are not impressed with Mourinho’s basic training methods or his negative style of play.
Some team-mates are dismayed at the way he publicly criticised the club’s £56million record signing Tanguy Ndombele, who has been frozen out of the starting line-up, his confidence apparently broken.
There was a feeling that Tottenham’s hard-nosed chairman Daniel Levy had been seduced by Mourinho’s high profile and had appointed in haste[/caption]
The quality of Tottenham’s squad has been diluted over three seasons, as Pochettino would privately complain and publically hint.
In Pochettino’s pomp, Spurs had three England full-backs at their peak – Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier. None have been adequately replaced.
Their central defenders, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, have got old, while replacement Davinson Sanchez continues to struggle.
Eric Dier has gone backwards. Dele Alli, a pet project of Mourinho, has not yet matured into the consistent world-class player he had threatened to be.
Christian Eriksen has departed, without a like-for-like replacement.
There is no back-up for Harry Kane.
The goodwill of Kane – who has hinted he will not stay at Spurs ‘for the sake of it’ – is crucial to both Levy and Mourinho.
Tottenham would go into meltdown if Harry Kane decides he wants out of there[/caption]
Should the England captain – who is 27 this month and has never won a major trophy – agitate for a move, it could be meltdown at the Lane.
Under normal circumstances, a relatively new manager such as Mourinho would automatically be allowed a summer to reshape a squad in his own image.
But this is no normal year – time and money will be desperately short.
Even with faint hopes of Champions League qualification extinguished by defeat at Bramall Lane, Tottenham’s final six league games could be critical for Mourinho.
They are not the toughest, on paper, but they do include a North London derby next weekend which is more significant to the mood of both Spurs and Arsenal than the league table suggests.
Levy will be desperate to ensure Spurs at least make the Europa League – they would need to finish seventh of eighth and are currently ninth.
Most read in Football
Should Spurs fall any lower – and as the squad is not in tune with Mourinho’s methods, that is possible – then Levy may have to make a very tough and expensive decision.
Supporters pine for Pochettino – and his achievements over five seasons with a minimal net spend on transfers are only being fully recognised in hindsight.
Some even believe Poch may be yearning for a return – yet the frustrations he felt over a lack of investment will only have worsened now.
Levy got lucky when he appointed the Argentinian, having wanted Louis Van Gaal.
This time he has stuffed it up. Does he have the humility – and the compensation cash – to recognise his mistake with Mourinho?