Does bringing in Jose Mourinho means Spurs have finally stepped up?
Eagerly awaiting club football after the international circuit last November, Spurs fans were in for a shock as much revered and loved manager - Mauricio Pochettino was shown the door following a string of poor results, just six months post a maiden Champions League final. While the usual contingency plan for a mid-season sack rules the announcement of a caretaker manager, Spurs got a lock on none other than Jose Mourinho. The master tactician hadn't pursued anywhere else since his departure from Manchester United in December 2018 and stayed put the following summer as well. By making the replacement swift and well-timed, Spurs out-smarted bitter rivals Arsenal whose hierarchy took an extra week to pull the plug on Emery and so, missed their chance.
In the last ten years Tottenham have transformed from a side shuffling between the top and bottom halves to competing in the Champions League. A major contribution came from Pochettino's footballing brand and his ability to recognise talent that helped assemble a quality squad rarely matched in the club's history. However, the lack of any silverware as a tribute to the 5-year process was a shame, because tehe progress was there to see. The Portuguese's appointment must reflect the higher ups' urgency to rectify past failures; not to look down on Pochettino's feat but it became visible he had reached his limit at Spurs. In a presser before the Champions League final the Argentine admitted to walk away if Spurs became European champions as 'the miracle cannot be repeated'.
An emerging challenge for the club at the moment concerns the futures of its star players. The names Gareth Bale and Luka Modric immediately resonate. Although their transfers were from a time when Spurs did not actually see selling their best players as a loss. Those days are gone. With a bustling squad yet to see its peak, the club needs to shed the ‘no-glory-sellers’ tag to cement their immediate future at least. With Mourinho’s arrival this might just be possible. His stature could help avoid the dreaded exodus. Despite that, one shouldn’t disregard the players’ personal choices for better careers; but what player wouldn’t want to be coached under the great man himself. The sudden resurgence of Dele Alli is an example of the fact that Mourinho does get the better out of his players, one way or another.
At the continental stage, Spurs now must take themselves more seriously after earning an unprecedented shot at becoming European champions last season, even though it went begging. A bold draw at Barcelona’s turf and the epic comeback against Ajax show why this team belongs in the Champions League and must contend seriously every season. They have a fantastic new stadium to boot. Perhaps they could take inspiration from Manchester City’s progress from being total strangers to genuine contenders every year. A rocky start to the league campaign put them in danger of losing out on the European spots, prompting the sack of Pochettino. Mourinho is a two-time winner of the competition; both times with non-favorites - FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010. It’s a fact that Mourinho has never returned empty handed from any of his previous projects which is what the club seem to bet all their chips on. His arrival also signals that the club now has the potential to attract big name managers in the future to take them forward regardless of the outcome of Mourinho's tenure. The club’s history of a comparatively emaciated trophy cabinet cannot be held against them any longer.
Published 15 Jan 2020, 23:58 IST