Paul Merson admits he's 'shocked' by Tottenham 's decision to axe Jose Mourinho ahead of their Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.
Mourinho was sacked on Monday with the club sitting seventh in the Premier League table – albeit only two points from the Champions League places – having previously been leading the way in November only to now be 24 points behind City.
It is not just the huge decline in form which led to the axe though. It has been widely reported that the majority of the Tottenham squad were not enjoying playing for Mourinho, with claims they were unhappy with his negative tactics and the way he spoke to the players.
In the end, Daniel Levy decided enough was enough and opted to promote Ryan Mason from the academy to interim head coach, becoming the youngest Premier League boss in the competition’s history.
Spurs managed to win his first game in charge on Wednesday, coming from behind to beat Southampton courtesy of a late penalty from Son Heung-min.
When asked about the sacking of Mourinho during Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday programme, Merson said: “I’m shocked. They are in a cup final on Sunday and they are up against it, let’s be honest. They are up against a phenomenal team.
“If I haven’t got a manager going into a cup final, if there was one man I want to try to get to try to beat Manchester City then it is Jose Mourinho.
“I know they got beaten at the Etihad but then Spurs beat them at home.
“If someone can set a team up to frustrate someone (then it is Mourinho). We are saying ‘he is behind his time’ and that he doesn’t play entertaining football. But there is no one better than him at setting up a team not to get beat. He would have made it hard for Man City.
"If Tottenham play like they did against Southampton in the first half, they might as well give City the trophy at half-time and stop everyone wasting their time.”
Merson went on to question why Levy has not received more criticism for sacking Mourinho, with much of the attention on the club’s failed plan to join a European Super League.
It was widely reported that Mourinho had become hugely unpopular with many members of the Spurs’ squad but one player who seemed to enjoy playing under the Portuguese was captain Harry Kane.
"I was surprised (by Mourinho's sacking) – I'll be totally honest. I came in that morning and probably found out five to ten minutes before it was announced,” Kane told Sky Sports.
"I had a great relationship with Jose, I wish him all the best for whatever his next job is, but he knows as we know football can be a cut-throat game and we just have to look forward. We have a big final to prepare for now and we're looking forward to that.”
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