A different, humble Mourinho? Or do Spurs becoming a spending club

Daniel Storey asks if Mourinho will change for Spurs or if Spurs will change for Mourinho.

A different, humble Mourinho? Or do Spurs becoming a spending club

Daniel Storey asks if Mourinho will change for Spurs or if Spurs will change for Mourinho.

Why do Tottenham always lurch between managers?

It is hard to imagine two more different elite-level managers than Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino.

As news of Pochettino’s sacking filtered through, several Tottenham players tweeted that they had lost a close friend as well as a manager. It is hard to imagine the same happening with Mourinho, nor him even wanting such epithets. He’s a boss first and friend second; probably not an entertainer third.

But then this is Tottenham. Their modern history is an almost unbroken chain of managers who were radically different to their predecessors: From Ossie Ardiles to Gerry Francis, Francis to Christian Gross, Gross to George Graham, Graham to Glenn Hoddle, Hoddle to Martin Jol (via a brief dalliance with Jacques Santini), Jol to Juande Ramos, Ramos to Harry Redknapp, Redknapp to Andre Villas-Boas, Villas-Boas to Tim Sherwood, Sherwood to Pochettino.

Until Pochettino, that barely worked. Harry Redknapp did an excellent job in taking Tottenham into the Champions League for the first time since the competitions rebrand, but Spurs made the top four in two of the first 22 seasons of the Premier League.

Their lurching between managerial philosophies meant that they repeatedly experienced year zero and paid the price for it.

In the space of 24 hours, Tottenham have transformed from a club with a long-termist manager and long-term vision to one with a manager famed for early success followed by earth-scorching fallout.

That makes this an extraordinary gamble on Daniel Levy’s part.

Do we see a different, humble Mourinho?

We are now used to the three-year Mourinho cycle of over-achievement that ends in messy divorce, a decline at least partly fueled by his own insecurities and extreme measures of self-preservation.

But even by those usual standards, his exit from Manchester United was complex and grubby. It included mutinous high-profile public criticism of the club and several senior players.

Daniel Levy
Daniel Levy

Has Mourinho learned from that experience? Does he understand that the pattern of his recent jobs - the initial success lessening, the eventual break-ups only getting worse - must be addressed if his reputation as a manager at the highest level is to avoid being trodden into the dirt?

Or does he simply fall deeper into his own parodical persona?

If Tottenham can get the Jose Mourinho of his Porto and first Chelsea tenures, he could be a wonderful fit.

But it’s well over 15 years since he arrived in England for the first time. And if there was ever a leopard least likely to consider changing his spots, it is Mourinho.

Or do Tottenham become a spending club?

The obvious alternative to Mourinho changing to fit Tottenham is that Daniel Levy has agreed to overhaul Tottenham to meet Mourinho’s demands.

Something has to give: An owner who hasn’t been ruthless enough in selling players or willing enough to buy players has now appointed a manager who has always demanded significant squad turnover funded by eye-watering transfer budgets.

Pochettino spent £109m net in his five-and-a-half years as Tottenham manager.

Over the same time period, Mourinho spent £622m on new players and he wasn’t even employed for part of that period.

Pochettino
Pochettino

There are systemic problems within this Tottenham squad, and Pochettino achieved in spite of them.

Levy has placed himself in a no-win situation. If he forces Mourinho to work on the frugal budget he gave to Pochettino over his last two years in charge, Mourinho will become grumpy.

If he affords Mourinho a much larger transfer budget, supporters will ask why Pochettino, arguably the best manager in the club’s modern history, wasn’t given the same luxury before it was too late.

What is success for this season?

When Leicester City appointed Brendan Rodgers in February, they chased him so hard because they wanted to give him three months acclimatise in his new surroundings and therefore hit the ground running at the start of his first full season. It has worked a charm.

The new manager will be under pressure to cause a surge in performance.
The new manager will be under pressure to cause a surge in performance.

But being appointed in November, with Tottenham three points off fifth place and with Champions League qualification in their hands, makes things a little different for Mourinho.

This season cannot be written off as a dead loss, and the new manager will be under pressure to cause a surge in performance and league position.

It’s also a new thing for Mourinho. Despite his reputation for fast starts and early success, Mourinho has always preferred to take over at a new club at the start of the summer to give him the maximum amount of time to a) imprint his demands on the squad and b) sign some new players.

His last five appointment dates stretching back to 2004: May 27, June 3, May 31, June 2, June 2. That presents a significant challenge to his usual methods.

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