It’s been nearly six months since Jose Mourinho donned the purple tracksuit for the first time, replacing Mauricio Pochettino after the Argentinian was sacked shortly after guiding Tottenham Hotspur to their first Champions League final. Fifteen years on from the special one’s first of three Premier League triumphs with Chelsea, can the enigmatic character win a fourth league title in North London?
Well, Mourinho will have to keep the champagne on ice for now as Spurs won’t be winning the league title this season, regardless of whether or not it's completed.
“I prefer to think that I’m going to have a fourth Premier League trophy,” says Mourinho.
“I have three, I prefer to think I’m going to have a fourth.”
Currently, Spurs slouch is an underwhelming 8th position in the Premier League on 41 points. That’s two points behind Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United who would have been plenty of people's pick for relegation at the start of the season. Not only that but the Blades have a game in hand, so should the Premier League resume, they have a chance to extend their advantage. No doubt playing in Mourinho’s holy grail, the Champions League looks unlikely for Tottenham, as they sit seven points downwind of fourth-place Chelsea, with nine games remaining.
Since Mourinho came to the helm at Spurs, he’s taken charge of 26 matches, winning eleven, drawing six and losing nine. That’s a win percentage of 42.3%, believe it or not, that’s the worst win rate of his managerial career, but like any manager, he needs time. A luxury he may not be given, considering much is expected of the man who’s won two Champions League’s, whilst his nemesis Pep Guardiola remains in charge of four-time Premier League winners Manchester City who appear to be dominant alongside Liverpool at the top of the tree for the foreseeable future.
Spurs have remained trophy-less since 2008. Their last piece of the silverware was the League Cup under the stewardship of Juande Ramos, who rather tainted his legacy in North London after steering the club into a relegation battle the following season, that needed Harry Redknapp to come to the rescue.
15 years ago, at Chelsea, Mourinho could boast of a five a side team that included Petr Cech, Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben and Diddier Drogba. Now at Tottenham, he can field Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane, but it’s an ageing backline that’s in decline with arguably their only world-class player, striker Harry Kane, suffering from an injury.
No doubt if Mourinho wants to seriously challenge for another Premier League title he has to blend a mixture of youth from the prestigious academy as well as putting his money where his mouth is. Something that might be easier said than done with Tottenham still paying off their new stadium. Not only that but it’s virtually impossible to compete financially with the likes of Manchester City. If Spurs don’t play in the Champions League next season, are they any more an attractive club to play for than the likes of Everton? There’s an argument to be had that Ancelotti has made more progress with the blue side of Merseyside than Mourinho’s stronghold in London.
There is even a question to be had over whether or not Tottenham are any better off under Jose Mourinho than they would be if Daniel Levy had kept faith with Mauricio Pochettino. Perhaps it is the latter that is more highly regarded, even when he has no trophy to show for his time in the Premier League, both at Tottenham and Southampton before that - where a relegation-threatened side moved up the table to within a whisker of Europe.
So, has the game passed Mourinho by? Is he no longer the special one? I’d have to say he’s still got it and has just been unfortunate in the past few years. There’s no excusing his public falling out with former Chelsea physio Eva Carneiro. It certainly appeared that the players threw in the towel and Mourinho’s reputation took a dent as a result. Then there’s Manchester United. Let’s not forget he won three trophies in his first season and finished second in the league as well as reaching two cup finals in the second, even if one was the UEFA Super Cup. Remember when Mourinho said finishing second with Manchester United was one of the biggest achievements of his career…look at where they are now. Neither David Moyes or Louis Van Gaal enjoyed the success at Manchester United that Mourinho did, and under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United appears to have stagnated with no clear direction.
Now at Tottenham, Mourinho has ageing senior pros who are a shadow of what they were in their prime, the inconsistency of Dele Alli and injuries to his only goal threats in Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Mourinho will need time, he’ll need seasons to build a squad capable of seriously challenging for the league, but if given this time, who knows what the special one might pull off…
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk