19 April 2021

Jose Mourinho – Tottenham’s dream appointment that turned into a nightmare

19 April 2021

It was the appointment of Daniel Levy’s dreams, but Jose Mourinho’s spell in charge of Tottenham ended up being more of a nightmare.

Mourinho has been removed from his position as head coach after 17 months, following a disappointing campaign where Spurs are currently seventh in the Premier League and have little chance of finishing in the top four.

Things might have been different for Mourinho but for a woeful second half of the season, where his side sank from the summit of the Premier League to outside the European spots and crashed out at the last-16 stage of the Europa League to the lowest ranked team in the competition.

But the 58-year-old might feel a little hard done by as he was due to lead his team out at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City just six days before his dismissal, with the club just one win away from ending their 13-year trophy drought.

The fact that his dismissal came less than 12 hours after the club announced they were part of the controversial breakaway Super League tournament seems to be a coincidence – it was matters on the pitch that did for Mourinho.

The final few months of his reign bore all the hallmarks seen during previous exits at Chelsea and Manchester United – a seemingly irreversible slide on the pitch followed by private and public fallouts with players and then turning on the media.

It was not supposed to be this way for Levy, who had spent most of his 20 years as chairman trying to lure Mourinho to north London and was starstruck when in the Portuguese’s presence.

He finally got his man in November 2019 and it was clear to see just how badly he wanted him as Mourinho was appointed less than 12 hours after the emotional decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino.

It seemed an odd fit on paper. Mourinho had previously managed clubs in a different dimension to Tottenham, usually had hefty backing in the transfer market and was not known for the type of rebuild that was needed.

Mourinho was Levy's dream manager (PA Archive)

But the biggest credential that attracted Mourinho to Levy was his ability to bring silverware, something that eluded the club for so long. They had come so close under Pochettino, now Mourinho was the man to come in and get them over the line.

Mourinho will always be able to point to the fact that he was due to play a final less than a week away from his sacking, but the fact that Spurs chose to remove the man they brought in to win trophies so close to the game is a damning indictment.

Having endured similar exits at Chelsea, United and now Spurs, it appears that Mourinho’s days as one of the elite managers in the game are over and it will take a huge re-invention for him to be considered for a top job again.

He will certainly have to address his pragmatic philosophy, something he was able to get away with to an extent due to a lack of fans in the stadium, and man-management skills as they were both part of his downfall at Spurs.

Mourinho may struggle to get an elite job after a succession of disappointing managerial spells (PA Wire)

The number of players who will be pleased to see him leave the club will be as many as those who are disappointed.

Of course, there were mitigating factors that Mourinho can point to. He inherited a squad that had effectively downed tools under Pochettino and hopes of a real overhaul were hit by the coronavirus pandemic crippling the club’s finances.

He will also say that he helped take Harry Kane’s game to the next level, which should not be forgotten. The England captain, who has said it was a “pleasure” to work under Mourinho, has – amid all the dross – had a stellar campaign with 47 goal contributions.

But the truth is, there is little for Mourinho to hang his hat on during his time in north London and leaves next to nothing in terms of a legacy.

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