Spurs being won over by Mourinho charm offensive
Twenty days without Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham are moving on. Traders in the High Road can’t afford to hang around.
Gone is the merchandise depicting Poch as Che Guevara, replaced by T-shirts hailing the ‘Spurcial One’. The players are clearly refreshed by the change of voice.
‘New stimulus, new ideas, new ways of doing things which are good for the mind and body,’ said Eric Dier. ‘Things have changed.’
Jose Mourinho has hurried the narrative along with a reminder of his political instinct as well as his managerial skills. Hugs for the ball boys have gone viral since he set the trend.
On Saturday, after a crushing victory against Burnley and a wonder goal by Son Heung-min, the new Spurs boss made a show of taking the match-ball from the Korean, amid jokes and smiles, and handing it to 17-year-old Troy Parrott, who made his Premier League debut as a substitute.
Mourinho has pitched everything nicely. It won’t last forever, of course, but if this job was to have any chance of working for him then he would have to press these populist keys.
Tottenham could not afford to descend into another era of self-loathing as they did when George Graham took over in 1998 after a string of managers with Tottenham links: David Pleat, Ossie Ardiles, Terry Venables, Peter Shreeves.
Graham and Mourinho both came from despised London rivals and with decorated pasts and reputations for functional, uninspiring football. They were not Spurs men. They did not produce Spurs football.
Supporters never took to Graham. Nor have they entirely embraced Mourinho — perhaps out of affection for Pochettino as much as his Chelsea connection. Certainly no one is singing his name yet, but they are warming to his act. Moreover they like what they’re seeing on the pitch. He and his coaching staff have made a positive impact on the team with four wins and 16 goals in five games, and influential players are buying into his plan.
Dele Alli and Lucas Moura have been revitalised. Harry Kane looks as sharp as ever, with a licence to drop deeper and link up play as he likes to do and allow Son and Alli to go past and stretch the back line of opposition defences.
This is a high-class attacking unit with pace, clinical instinct and variation, capable of scoring all types of goals and they were back to their sharpest as they pulled a beleaguered Burnley apart.
Kane scored two screamers which were eclipsed by the 75-metre solo effort from Son. Moura scored again and Moussa Sissoko has emerged from a two-year goal drought to find the net twice in three games.
‘We are enjoying working with new methods and new people so we can learn from this period and this change of manager,’ said Dier, who has been restored to the team and benefited more than most. ‘Playing at this level, and this age where most of us are in our mid-20s now, we are really looking to establish ourselves and push on to get to the highest possible level.’
Mourinho hammered away at the idea that he has come to help the squad achieve these things, with his experience of winning the big titles.
‘I just feel I have lived more than them,’ he said after Saturday’s win narrowed the gap on the top four. ‘I have been in football for longer than them, my experience is bigger than them.’
Spurs face Bayern Munich again on Wednesday with confidence almost fully restored after the seven-goal mauling they suffered in October. Kane is among those who will not play as Mourinho rests players and works on tactical shape.
This was his first clean sheet since taking control and he will attempt to tighten up in defence and prepare for Premier League fixtures against Wolves and Chelsea, both firmly in his sights and good indicators of Tottenham’s progress.Daily Mail