Mourinho replaces Mauricio Pochettino at struggling Spurs
Wednesday 20 November 2019 15:49, UK
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and new head coach Jose Mourinho have put their reputations on the line. It's high stakes and high risk. But will it pay off?
In just under 12 whirlwind hours Tottenham have replaced the trophyless Mauricio Pochettino with Jose Mourinho, one of the most successful managers in history.
It's a drastic and decisive intervention by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy; a move which caught many by surprise but, in his eyes, a necessary one after a start to the season which has seen his team slip to 14th place in the Premier League, knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Colchester and humiliated 7-2 at home to Bayern Munich.
But it's also a gamble - and Levy's reputation is on the line with this appointment.
He has turned away from Tottenham's traditional style for a manager who will do anything it takes to win. Pochettino's football philosophy, which has shaped the club for the past five years and built on Spurs' history of attractive, attacking football, has been traded in for a manager who will park the bus and play pragmatically if that's what it takes to get over the line.
That transition - which Mourinho will begin instilling from his very first training session on Wednesday afternoon - will be a seismic shift for the Spurs players.
But Levy has also put Spurs at risk of being dragged into the dramas and controversies that dogged Mourinho's final months at Manchester United. The press conference protests, the player disputes, the training ground spats, and eventually the toxic mood which divided supporters and made Mourinho's departure from his dream job inevitable.
If it begins to go wrong or Levy and Mourinho clash on key issues, everyone know what's coming.
Levy will have weighed all of this up and concluded the potential rewards outweigh it all.
The hope is Mourinho can have an instant impact in the short term and turn this season around, that he can move Spurs back up the table towards the top four, progress in the FA Cup and deliver more memorable nights in the Champions League knockout stages. His track record shows he could do just that.
Mourinho - who delivered silverware in his first seasons at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United - has repeatedly walked through the door and raised the level at his previous clubs.
Levy will also be backing Mourinho to avoid the drop off which has become something of a trademark, too. Ultimately, in the seasons ahead, the aim will be to turn Pochettino's previously talented young players into senior and serial winners.
With his experience, pedigree and A-list status Mourinho could take Tottenham into the elite bracket.
But Mourinho has rolled the dice too.
He's grabbed a Premier League and Champions League return, something that looked uncertain to come his way again during the immediate aftermath of his United exit.
And walking out at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium he will have seen Spurs' potential is significant.
But he takes over a squad of players at the end of a cycle. There are wantaways who have contracts expiring and eyes on moves elsewhere. There are others who need reinvigorating and to be challenged. And there are several areas on the pitch that need upgrading, with right-back and central midfield in particular need of attention.
Mourinho will have to address these issues without the financial backing in the transfer market he has had at his previous clubs.
This is a manager who spent over £400m at United and demanded more while Spurs nursed their net spend. It's some culture change and those January transfer planning meetings between Levy and Mourinho would make for fascinating viewing.
However, after his second spell at Chelsea unravelled and he ultimately failed to deliver the Premier League success he had intended to at Manchester United, Mourinho knows he cannot fall short with his next move. His reputation cannot afford another hit if he wants to return to the top table.
The opportunities and threats are in plain sight for Levy and Mourinho.
For this to work there will need to be a change of approach from one or the other - or at least some form of compromise.
It could just be that, given the needs of both parties, they will be prepared to meet in the middle. But then, neither man is known for backing down...
Sky Sports' Nick Wright...
The club he walked into in 2014 is very different from the one he leaves behind. Pochettino became Tottenham's sixth manager in 10 years when he succeeded Tim Sherwood in May 2014. The bloated squad was a case study in muddled recruitment and the fanbase was disillusioned.
Spurs looked a long way from competing with the best teams in the country - let alone in Europe - but Pochettino soon changed that. The first season was transitional, but the next four yielded four consecutive top-four finishes, twice as many as Spurs had managed in the previous 22.
Pochettino changed Tottenham's identity, not through expensively-acquired signings but through a devotion to the development of young players proud to wear the shirt. Harry Kane and Dele Alli became the standard-bearers for Pochettino's Spurs and they were not the only ones to blossom under his guidance.
Sky Sports' Adam Bate...
The first instinct is to pity Mauricio Pochettino.
The man has lost his job, after all. But the outpouring of affection following his departure reveals the truth. He leaves not only with a handsome pay-off but with his reputation intact. Among Tottenham supporters, of course. But just as importantly now, among the wider public too.
The news came as a shock but the outcome can hardly be called a surprise even if that phrase 'relieved of his duties' feels deeply unsatisfactory. By his own admission prior to the Champions League final in June, Pochettino's project came to an end in the summer - a not-so-subtle reference to what has long been brewing behind the scenes.
Much of the fascination now will stem from which party fares best from this parting of the ways. Tottenham are entitled to expect an upturn in results given their measly haul of 25 points from 24 games since February, but it reveals much that it is the discarded coach who is likely to be short odds to clinch a trophy before the club that has sacked him.