Sport

Jose Mourinho's Tottenham tenure is threatening to turn toxic – but what is going so wrong at Spurs?


Jose Mourinho would have been seething on Friday morning as he picked up the pieces of Tottenham’s third straight defeat in the Premier League.

The pressure is mounting on the Spurs boss. His side now sit in ninth place, seven points behind Liverpool, in fourth, with a game in hand. But on current form, nobody can count that game as three points in waiting. They play West Brom today.

So where has it been going wrong in recent weeks? What can Mourinho pinpoint as an area for improvement to cajole his team back into winning form? Sportsmail takes a look.  

Jose Mourinho's Tottenham slumped to their third straight defeat on Thursday night

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham slumped to their third straight defeat on Thursday night

SON’S GOAL DROUGHT

It’s an unfortunate one for Tottenham but Son Heung-min’s goal drought has coincided now with Harry Kane’s injury. The South Korea star hasn’t hit the back of the net in his last six matches and it is undoubtedly impacting his confidence. 

A goal for Son, which will come sooner or later, would be a big step in the right direction for Tottenham as a team. He is one of the finest players in the league and his partnership with Kane is as potent as any strikeforce in the division. 

But one of the many qualities that make elite players so good is there ability to step up when others around them are absent. Starting against West Brom, Son needs to do that now for his team. 

Striker Heung-min Son has not scored for Totenham in his last six appearances for the club

Striker Heung-min Son has not scored for Totenham in his last six appearances for the club

JOSE’S EXCUSES

Mourinho has never been afraid to point the finger but you have to wonder how much good it causes these days. It’s a very different game to the one he conquered as Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan boss.

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand was deeply unimpressed with his response to the defeat by Chelsea on Thursday. He blamed the decision to give Chelsea a penalty, he criticised Vinicus’ pressing ability and later, in his press conference, referred to Tottenham’s injury list and made yet another dig at Dele Alli.

‘I just hope that his conversation and the way he talks to the team is very different to what I just saw there,’ Ferdinand said. ‘Because that was an excuses-filled interview more than anything. I understand the manager coming out and dressing down your players in public may not be the way to do it in today’s game but you really do hope those players are getting the message that’s very different to that. 

‘We can talk about Son and we can talk about Kane but that doesn’t come away from the fact there doesn’t seem to be any game-plan, even getting out from the back. There’s no movement, there’s no game plan, there’s no direction with this team. 

‘I just see people playing off the cuff, hoping to get it to Ndombele at the moment who is going to do something to get Son in, if that happens.’ 

HOW MUCH HAS JOSE CHANGED? 

Earlier this season, Tottenham ground out an impressive and gritty 1-0 win away to Burnley and in his post-match analysis, Jamie Carragher said he’d like to see Mourinho lift the title.

‘We talk about tactics and systems here and we love it, we get ingrained in it, but Mourinho has had so much thrown at him – that he’s yesterday’s man and he’s from a different era – all of these things and these new modern fresh managers,’ Carragher said.

‘But I’d love to see Mourinho win again to stick two fingers up to me and him or the press and papers – whoever is out there! It would be a good story in some ways for Mourinho to do that again. 

‘For what he has achieved, he gets a lot of criticism because of how he goes about certain things but it would be nice in some ways to see him win and win it a different way.’

Mourinho arrived at Tottenham with a new-look backroom team (pictured with assistant Joao Sacramento) and branded himself 'the humble one'

Mourinho arrived at Tottenham with a new-look backroom team (pictured with assistant Joao Sacramento) and branded himself ‘the humble one’

Mourinho has made an effort to reinvent himself at Tottenham. He arrived with a new backroom staff, he announced himself as ‘The Humble One’ and stressed how he would make ‘new mistakes’ as Spurs boss.

It was refreshing to see and while there were bumps in the road, Mourinho had a solid enough first year at the helm. In December, they were battling it out at the summit of the table.

But it’s when things go wrong that another side of Mourinho comes to the fore and that side isn’t humble, or comfortable at the prospect of making mistakes. 

Indeed, he hit out at reporter Alison Bender when she asked him why Gareth Bale didn’t appear as a substitute against Chelsea. 

‘Good question but I don’t think you deserve an answer,’ Mourinho replied. Not a good look. 

Mourinho snapped after a reporter asked him why he didn't bring on Gareth Bale

Mourinho snapped after a reporter asked him why he didn’t bring on Gareth Bale

UNINSPIRING BALE 

Mourinho knew how important even a draw against Chelsea would have been yet he still didn’t think it was worth throwing Gareth Bale on at any point in the match. It is a startling reflection up what Mourinho thinks of the Welshman, whose return to Tottenham was understandably greeted with huge excitement from the club’s fanbase.

But it has been a sour story so far. Bale arrived injured and still doesn’t look to have returned to his peak condition. The 31-year-old has only played 15 times for Spurs so far this season and three of his four goals have come in cup competitions, a reflection upon where he gets most of his minutes.

Bale has the potential to light up any team, and league, he plays in but Mourinho clearly isn’t seeing what he wants to on the training pitch – let alone when he makes it onto the field of play. 

Gareth Bale was an unused substitute against Chelsea, even though Spurs chased a goal

Gareth Bale was an unused substitute against Chelsea, even though Spurs chased a goal

INJURIES PILING UP

It’s tiresome when managers or players blame injuries too much but it’s unquestionably a contributing factor here. Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea would have been looking at Tottenham’s injury list and relishing the timing of their match on Thursday.

Harry Kane is enough of a blow if he was Tottenham’s only injury concern but the issues run deeper than that. 

Giovani Lo Celso, who has gone from strength to strength under Mourinho, is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury. Sergio Reguilon is also out with a muscle problem – something Mourinho referenced when quizzed on the standard of their attacking play against Chelsea – and has established himself as a key man under Mourinho since arriving alongside Bale. 

Harry Kane's ankle injury is a major blow to Tottenham and they struggle badly without him

Harry Kane’s ankle injury is a major blow to Tottenham and they struggle badly without him

EXILED DELE

With attacking options dented by injury or out of form, Dele Alli must feel dismayed at his own fitness issues ruling him out of the Chelsea match. 

He has only been played 12 times this season by Mourinho, mainly in cup competitions. His last appearance was in the FA Cup win over non-League Marine.

But there was geniune interest in him in the January transfer window from Paris Saint-Germain and former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was said to be left frustrated by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy’s attitude to negotiations.

So whatever happens, Tottenham have him now until the end of the season. Mourinho needs to find a path for Alli to return to the first team and feel confident enough to recapture his best form. If he were to do that, it would add another dimension to Mourinho’s side for the run-in.

After keeping Dele Alli in the January window, Mourinho needs to get him back in the team

After keeping Dele Alli in the January window, Mourinho needs to get him back in the team

DIER DEFENCE

Eric Dier is a trusted lieutenant in Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham setup but when he gives away penalties as needlessly as he did against Chelsea, questions will always remain over how well suited to a centre-back role he really is. 

But he’s not the only issue in Mourinho’s backline. Serge Aurier stormed out of the stadium after he was taken off at half-time in the 3-1 defeat by Liverpool and actions like that reflect poorly on the harmony within Tottenham’s side.

Now is the time for Dier to step up and answer his critcs, while Aurier needs to keep his head down and let his football do the talking. He has otherwise been an ever-present under Mourinho. 

Eric Dier needlessly gave away the penalty that led to Chelsea's goal against Tottenham

Eric Dier needlessly gave away the penalty that led to Chelsea’s goal against Tottenham

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button