Tag Archives: Tottenham

Mourinho is a big gamble by Spurs – but one worth taking

In a small corner of the Johan Cruijff Arena, the Tottenham fans are blasting out their famous Mauricio Pochettino chant. Lucas Moura has just scored a 96th minute winner against Ajax to send them to a first-ever Champions League final, following one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the competition. It feels like a culmination of all the Argentinian’s hard work – he has transformed the club into realistic contenders.

Had someone told you that night that Jose Mourinho would become Tottenham manager by the end of the year, you would have laughed at them. But just 19 games later, with Spurs languishing in 14th position in the Premier League, that is exactly what has transpired.

Despite a horrific run of form which has left them closer to the relegation zone than the top four, Pochettino’s sacking still sent shockwaves through the football world.

He is undoubtedly one of the world’s top coaches and has already been linked with several high-profile jobs. Not many would argue against him finding a job at a club bigger than Spurs before the end of the season.

It is easy to forget that the club made the top four just twice in the Premier League era before Pochettino’s arrival. He has made Champions League football the norm at White Hart Lane, all whilst operating on a shoestring budget relative to many of their rivals.

He also built a special rapport with the fans, as scenes such as those following their dramatic win over Ajax demonstrate, when the Argentine cried tears of joy amid the celebrations.

Demolished

But in football there is no room for sentiment; chairman Daniel Levy had to act on what he felt was best for the long-term future of the club.

In truth, Pochettino’s downfall began well before their historic Champions League run. Tottenham have not won away in the league since January – and even that came in injury time against relegated Fulham.

They have earned just 25 points from their last 24 games, and have won just three league games this season. They were also demolished 7-2 at home by Bayern Munich and knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by Colchester.

There had been doubts for several months surrounding Pochettino’s long-term future, and a feeling that he would jump ship the moment a bigger job came his way. He has been growing increasingly frustrated with the club’s lack of willingness to spend big in the transfer market; they didn’t make a single signing last season.


“In Mourinho, Tottenham have a man who knows how to win”

Sacking arguably one of their greatest ever managers so early in the season may have seemed a rash decision by Levy had he not had a proven winner ready to take over.

In Mourinho, Tottenham have a man who knows how to win. Not just football matches, but trophies, something Pochettino was unable to deliver during his five years in charge.

The contrast between the two could not be greater. One actively seeks to bring through youth, looking to improve individuals rather than replace those who may be struggling, and build a team over a number of years.

The other is a winning machine, who will stop at nothing to achieve success, regularly looking to the transfer market to solve problems.

Turbulent

On the face of it, Mourinho does not seem the perfect fit for the North London club. One of the main reasons’ thing turned sour for him at Manchester United was over the hierarchy’s failure to deliver his transfer targets. Levy will need to dip his hand into his pocket far more often that he has previously in order to satisfy the Portuguese’s wishes.

Levy was not put off by his bitter Old Trafford exit, where he was sacked after a turbulent last six months at the helm. His second-place finish the previous season looks impressive now, and he managed to win two trophies during his tenure, but fell out with many during the process, most notably Paul Pogba.


There is hope that Mourinho will be able to convince several big names to remain at the club

Mourinho often feels like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode as happened in his third season at both Chelsea and United. However, he knows this is potentially his last chance in English football, so will surely come into it with a different, more measured approach.

The three-time Premier League winner is not known for undertaking rebuild jobs, but that’s exactly what he faces in North London. Three key players – Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen are all out of contract at the end of the season, while others such as Serge Aurier, Danny Rose and Victor Wanyama have been offered around Europe with little success.

It shows the mismanagement of the club that Eriksen, who was dead set on leaving following the defeat in Madrid, wasn’t sold and could instead leave the club for free next summer.

There is hope, though, that Mourinho will be able to convince several big names to remain. Surely at least one of the out-of-contract trio could be persuaded to sign a new deal, but even if this happens, there will still be a considerable rebuild needed.

Keeping Spurs talisman Harry Kane will be a priority for the new manager. His social media tribute to the departing Pochettino showed how strong the bond was between the two. But it is likely the future of his star man was on Levy’s mind when he decided to opt for Jose – if anyone can convince him to stay, he can.

Levy has made a tough decision, but the right decision. Mourinho is a gamble, but one worth taking. Expectations are far lower at Tottenham than any of his previous clubs. Jose has won 10 trophies since Spurs last lifted silverware – there are few people better placed to end their drought.

Featured image via www.youtube.com/watch?v=63apDKKx1o4

Sorry, Spurs – I’m cursed

As any Spurs supporter will tell you, it’s a rollercoaster ride supporting our club.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of watching superb comeback wins at the Emirates one week and the agony of dreary home defeats to Newcastle the next.

In my lifetime, Tottenham have always been seen as the team that just falls short, flattering to deceive and mixing some very good moments with some very bad ones.

However my first-hand experience supporting the team over the last two years has been filled with the latter. In fact, my last experience watching Tottenham win a game live was back in December 2013.

It was a very cold, wet and windy Wednesday night at Fulham. The game started with Spurs dominating possession but struggling to break down the opposition’s deep-lying defence, which was typical under Andre Villas Boas.

Surprise

Even more typical was when we went behind early on in the second half against the run of play. However, thanks to long-range efforts from Chiriches and former fan-favourite Lewis Holtby, I left Craven Cottage filled with joy – a feeling I haven’t felt since (well, when leaving a football stadium, anyway).

Since that day I have been to watch my side 11 times, spending over £600 in the process, and I am still yet to see them win.  In those 11 games I have witnessed nine defeats, ranging from  a 1-0 smash-and-grab scoreline against West Brom to a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.

“As the game wore on my nerves began to grow and when we conceded a corner late on, I knew what was coming”

The two draws consisted of a dull 0-0 against Palace and a late recovery to 2-2 against West Ham to salvage a point – the only flicker of a highlight I can boast, too.

My most recent visit to White Hart Lane was against the surprise title challengers Leicester City, and it didn’t end well for me or Spurs.

Before that, my only other visit to White Hart Lane this term was our first game there, against Stoke City – yet another go on the N17 rollercoaster that unfortunately ended on a very disappointing drop as the away side came from two goals down to snatch a draw late on.

Optimism

However disappointing that result was, it did kick-start a very impressive unbeaten run by my side that I enjoyed so much that I stopped myself going to any more games, out of fear that I’d end the run myself – against the wishes of my Arsenal-supporting uncle, who offered to buy me a season ticket upon hearing about my curse.

Once the run came to end, I felt it was safe to return to the Lane and, hoping that wheels would finally come off of their unlikely title challenge, chose the Leicester City game. But after the 2-2 home draw against them in the FA Cup just three days earlier, I was aware of what a tough ask it would be.

“Palace fans will be happy to know that my next live match will be at Selhurst Park. To all Tottenham fans, I can only apologise in advance…”

Like my last taste of victory from the stands, it was a very cold, wet and windy Wednesday night at White Hart Lane, which gave me at least a slight sense of optimism heading into the match.

Which grew even more as the evening wore on, as for the first time in a long time, I was witnessing an impressive performance first-hand. After 70 minutes, we seemed to have done everything but score, testing Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel on numerous occasions – but even when Harry Kane got the ball past the great Dane, the bar stood in his way.

As the game wore on my nerves began to grow and when we conceded a corner late on, I knew what was coming and when the ball hit the back of the net (Robert Huth unmarked, header) I was left with the same feeling I’ve had so many times before.

The more games that rack up, the more I wonder how long it will be until I see my side win again when I’m there. Crystal Palace fans will be happy to know that my next live match will be at Selhurst Park. To all Tottenham fans, I can only apologise in advance…

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.