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Jose Mourinho excited to unleash Tottenham's attacking six against West Ham
Watch Tottenham vs West Ham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 8pm on Tuesday; Kick-off 8.15pm
Last Updated: 23/06/20 8:32pm
Jose Mourinho took Tottenham to the London Stadium in November for his very first game in charge. After describing himself as 'new and improved', a 3-2 derby win over West Ham - which was more convincing than the scoreline - hinted at an intriguing, exciting next step for Spurs.
But ahead of the delayed reverse fixture eight months on, Tottenham are down in eighth and, as they were back then, still nine points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Mourinho can't hide his frustration at how injuries have hampered his plans of progress.
"I start the first match without Hugo Lloris, without Erik Lamela and then in the first match I lost Ben Davies," Mourinho says. "Then later I lost Harry Kane. And I lost [Heung-Min] Son. And I lost [Moussa] Sissoko. And we have lots of problems.
"So I think this has been a very, very special season for us. Since the beginning - not just since my arrival - since the beginning it was a very, very difficult season for the club, for the team.
"But now we have this opportunity to try to get points and try to get the best possible position - which probably for me is not the position that we think we have the potential for.
"But we now just think about the next eight matches and that's it."
With Manchester City's Champions League ban potentially meaning fifth place will be enough to qualify for next season's competition, closing the four-point gap on Manchester United is now the target for Spurs.
But Mourinho clearly feels this Tottenham squad are far more capable than operating at that level in the future.
A glimpse of what this Spurs team could become may be on show on Tuesday evening when, for the first time, Mourinho has his six best attackers available to him.
Six 'fantastic' attackers finally fit
With Dele Alli's one-game suspension served and Lucas Moura recovered, they will join Kane, Steven Bergwijn, Son and Lamela in competing for a starting spot against West Ham.
"It's fantastic," said Mourinho. "Tottenham always had a fantastic group of attacking players and in the January market Steven Bergwijn coming even improved that. Not just to be one more, but to be one more fantastic player with great ability.
"So now we have the six players available which is a very, very good attacking force that allows us to start the game and have players on the bench to make changes in case we have a need.
"And I think in this moment, with this long period without football, the attacking players especially, it is not easy for them. So to have in this moment, three plus three is a great situation for us."
Now we have the six players available which is a very, very good attacking force
Jose Mourinho on his attack
Managing workloads will be a key task for coaches throughout the Premier League during this condensed run-in after a long period without action, and the opportunity to shuffle his pack during the busy coming weeks is a welcome advantage in Mourinho's eyes.
But it could also be a policy he adopts in the longer term. Rather than search for a winning three-man combination from that six, as Jurgen Klopp has found at Liverpool, Mourinho sees the merit in utilising his players' various strengths at different times.
"I think it is normal you go in the direction of 'this player is normally my first choice' but at the same time if they all are good and if they all have great qualities I think it's normal to rotate a bit," he said.
"I think it's normal to adapt to the style of the game plan, to the style of the opponent. And again, I was in trouble during weeks and weeks and weeks without any attacking player and in this moment is the first time for me since I arrived to have all the six attacking players available is very, very good for the team.
"In this moment I just want the players available like we have now. To try their best until the end of the season. In the end of the season we will see where we are, we see what is possible, what we want to do, what we need to do.
"All I can say is with six attacking players available in this moment, I don't need [to sign] attacking players."
'I'll be very patient with Kane'
One player likely to be a consistent in that attacking trio, regardless of rotation around him, will be Kane. Making his first appearance in six months on Friday night, the striker played all 90 minutes against Manchester United.
Mourinho has fended off suggestions the England captain may struggle to deliver the goal hauls he has in the past in the Portuguese's system. He also says he will stand by his key player and give him time to return to his best level.
"Harry did amazing," Mourinho said, reflecting on his display against United. "I don't think any player being six months without playing football and after an important surgery and after a very difficult period to recover because of the lockdown rules affected a lot the recovering of players, I think nobody could do better than what he did for the team.
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"Seven goals in 10 matches [under Mourinho, prior to his injury] would give an average of 14 in 20. An average of 28 in 40. So we are there. But of course now we have to wait.
"And just because of one game, in a fixture where the majority of the strikers in the Premier League struggle to show that sharpness, to show that quality that they all have, people only turn to Harry. Because Harry is special, because with Harry anything less than scoring a hat-trick is not good enough.
"But I'm not that way. I don't analyse things that way. I'm very, very patient. He will have all the time he needs to recover to his normal level."
'Our ambition is to win eight'
Kane managed just one blocked shot against Manchester United and failed to have a touch in the opposition box but he'll be optimistic of a better return against West Ham. His London derby record is, after all, remarkable.
But Mourinho is anticipating an all-round rise in Spurs' levels, as they welcome back key players and build on their 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
"I think we will be even better by the West Ham game because it's the second game," he said. "We have more options because Lucas is back from injury and Dele Alli is back from suspension. We look forward to the game - important game for us, important game for them. London derby. Empty but a lot to play for.
"They need points, they don't want to lose, they played some matches against the top teams where they compete really, really hard and they try to get results which I think is what they're going to try to do against us.
"But the ambition is to win the remaining eight matches, which we know is very difficult. Our ambition was to win nine, we couldn't. We got just a draw. Our ambition now is to win eight.
"But forgetting eight, focus just on one, we want to beat West Ham and with this mentality let's go until the end of the season and after the last game we will see the position where we ended."
Mourinho's aims for Tottenham this season may have shifted from the ones he had before the previous meeting with West Ham but his excitement about the potential at the club remains.
But after four Premier League games without a win, Spurs need to get back on course - and Jose's 'fantastic' six may just help them do it.