FAN VIEW: Jose Mourinho has made Tottenham WORSE, betrayed the club’s attacking ethos and left confidence on the floor after the dismal Europa League exit… even winning the League Cup could not salvage our abysmal season!
- Tottenham’s loss to Dinamo Zagreb was disappointing, but not at all surprising
- Under Jose Mourinho, Spurs have sat back and collapsed in important games
- Spurs fans would have accepted negative football if they produced results
- But awful displays and schoolboy defending has left season hanging by thread
- Mourinho has guided Spurs to a cup final, but winning it won’t solve anything
‘To Dare is To Do’, reads Tottenham’s club motto – except there hasn’t been much daring or doing around N17 of late.
The team’s dreadful performance in their 3-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb – surrendering a 2-0 first leg lead – was incredibly disappointing, but by no means surprising. Spurs fans have come to expect that, in pivotal games, the team will sit back, invite pressure and collapse. The exact same thing happened in the north London derby against Arsenal last week.
There was so much optimism around this squad, which sat top of the league as recently as December, but the team have come up short in nearly every big game they’ve played since. Supporters are well accustomed to ‘Spursy’ displays when it matters most, but things were supposed to be different this time around.
When Jose Mourinho replaced the beloved Mauricio Pochettino in November 2019, the fanbase was split down the middle. There were those who adored the Argentine, the man who had catapulted a group of underachievers to regulars in the top four as well as a couple of title challenges and a Champions League final.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham team have played negative football this season and his tactics have failed to produce results either
Spurs were well beaten by Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League despite racking up a 2-0 lead from the first leg
The other side had become tired of the team’s status as ‘nearly men’ and were desperate for trophies – seeing a ‘winner’ in Mourinho as the perfect man to deliver that. The general consensus was, ‘The football might not be pretty, but at least trophies are on the way’. If we have to swap style for silverware, so be it.
Tottenham might be in a cup final against Manchester City next month, but winning that – a tough ask in itself – would only paper over the cracks of a season that has been quite frankly dismal.
It’s fair to say that Spurs fans have a reputation for being ‘optimists’, let’s say, but last summer there was a real feeling that the club could pull off something special. Chairman Daniel Levy became a popular figure for once after resigning favourite Gareth Bale, while highly-rated left-back Sergio Reguilon joined alongside Southampton captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Tottenham fans adored Mauricio Pochettino (L) but Jose Mourinho (R) has failed to inspire confidence that the club is moving forward
There was huge optimism at the start of the season as Spurs made inspiring signings in Sergio Reguilon (L) and Gareth Bale (R)
The start to the season was a mixed bag – from the highs of thumping Manchester United 6-1 and home wins over Man City and Arsenal acting as a tonic to chase away a 3-3 draw against West Ham (from 3-0 up) and drawing to Newcastle 1-1 in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
These forgettable results turned out to be sign of things to come with a handful of common themes: no organisation, no leadership, no confidence. A team brimming with attacking talent and flair looks like it does not trust itself to dominate games – or at least Mourinho doesn’t.
Why is a team with a front line of Harry Kane, Son-Heung Min and Gareth Bale being forced to sit back and defend in games they’re expected to win? Why is there such a lack of adventure or intent until it’s far too late?
We saw it against Arsenal last Sunday – going 1-0 up against the run of play before backing off and allowing them to turn the game on its head, and only pressuring the Gunners in the final ten minutes.
Too often Spurs have sat back and collapsed in big games – seen in their derby loss to Arsenal
Against Dinamo, the team looked quite content to sit on their 2-0 first leg lead, with the Croatians growing more and more in confidence and pulling it back to 2-2. Once again, the Tottenham fightback did not arrive until the dying moments of the game as Kane saw an effort cleared off the line. Out of the FA Cup, out of the title race and now out of the Europa League.
Mourinho himself insists his players failed to follow his instructions to ‘play to win and be dominant’, but they’ve ignore those apparent guidelines in a large majority of games this season. So are these tepid displays solely down to the team ignoring their manager? Or is the Special One simply not so special any more?
Tactics aside, morale appears to be on the floor if the performances from Thursday night are anything to go by. Some schoolboy defending on display to let Dinamo cut through them – attempted clearances being toe poked away and punted above their heads. It was Dinamo showing the desire and hunger that you would expect from every Spurs player in a game of this magnitude.
Where are the leaders? Where is the winning mentality we were promised? Where is the spirit we saw two years ago during the Miracle of Amsterdam to overcome Ajax in the Champions League semi-final against all odds.
Spurs were outfought and outdesired by Dinamo and showed that confidence is on the floor
Where is the spirit in the team that spurred them on to a famous Champions League win over Ajax in the 2019 semi-finals?
Captain Hugo Lloris offered a brutal assessment of the team and used the perfect words to sum up their shortcomings.
‘We have a lack of basics, lack of fundamental, all our performances is a relation of that,’ he said. ‘Mentally we should be stronger, more competitive. Today, I didn’t feel that on the field.’
So with the European dream dead – the most realistic possibility of Champions League qualification, Spurs sit eighth in the table after nine league defeats and six points off Chelsea in fourth – with a game in hand. Certainly doable, but with crucial games against Aston Villa, Everton and Manchester United to come, it’s hard to see how this team puts together a run of results with the football they produce.
A team that squandered 13 points from winning positions. The memory of sitting behind a 1-0 lead at home to Fulham before drawing 1-1 before deja vu struck against Palace at Selhurst Park. Mourinho teams in the past were resolute at the back, but this team isn’t good enough to pull it off.
Tottenham have lost 13 points from winning positions this seasons and it has cost them dear
The club are blessed with world class talent Son Heung-Min (L) and Harry Kane (R) but their quality alone cannot carry the team
Mourinho’s pragmatic style has shackled the team, going against the club’s attacking ethos
The ethos of this club is to win games in style, to attack with flair and entertain. Mourinho’s current set-up, whether he admits it or not, is a total betrayal of what Tottenham stands for and it has not translated well to the players.
They seem frustrated and shackled. Why were they not given the licence to put a struggling Arsenal team to the sword last weekend – a team seven points below them in the table.
Spurs are blessed to have two world class talents like Kane and Son – who have nearly 40 goals between them this term, while the re-emergence of Gareth Bale has helped too – but outside those three, the attacking threat has dwindled. Lucas Moura has three goals in the Premier League, while Steven Bergwijn, who Mourinho persisted with for so long on the right wing, is yet to hit the back of the net.
The defensive set-up has led to a poor scoring output from his attacking ensemble, with Steven Bergwijn (L) yet to open his account for the season
Tottenham played superb football under Mauricio Pochettino, who had ambitious plans
Tottenham oozed class under Pochettino and received ringing endorsements for their high-octane pressing style in a system that allowed their most creative players to flourish. Not every fan agreed with his sacking but no one would have complained if Mourinho could turn them into serial winners. They could not look any further away from that image.
On April 25th Spurs have a chance to end their 13-year trophy drought and go to Wembley as underdogs against a City side that has been the best in the league this season. This is a competition that Pochettino admittedly didn’t take seriously. He preferred to give priority to ‘major’ tournaments like the Premier League and Champions League. Winning those would truly change the landscape for Spurs, he said, not the League Cup. At the time, many fans disagreed with him. Perhaps they’ll have a different standpoint now.
In truth it will be a lose-lose for Mourinho. Win the cup and he’ll appease a few success-hungry supporters, while buying himself time in the hotseat.
Mourinho’s job security is strengthened by a cup final spot – but winning against City next month will simply mask over the problems at the club
Lose, and his position will surely become untenable – given that he was brought to Spurs for one reason, to win trophies. He finished sixth last season and faces an uphill task to do much better this time. Nearly two years in the job with nothing to show for it will not sit well with the Spurs faithful, nor Levy – who is intent on turning the club into a global force having laid out £1bn on a shiny new stadium.
The calls for his sacking began a while ago – those cries have only grown stronger after their exit from Europe. As Tottenham’s season hangs by a thread, so too does Mourinho’s job – held up by rapidly fading hopes of success.
There’s no getting around it – Spurs have gone backwards, and there is no sign that anyone will push the accelerator under this management.
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