Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur tenure is sliding towards an abyss unless results and performances take an upward turn. Chairman Daniel Levy is not ready to pull the trigger yet but there can be no doubt that things are currently heading in the wrong direction.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur Tenure Faltering
Top of the Table to Mid-Table
Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino in October 2019 and was a surprise appointment considering his successful stints with Tottenham’s rivals, Chelsea. Daniel Levy spotted a chance to bring in a proven winner, and because the club have failed to win any silverware in 13 years, he saw an unmissable opportunity to get his man.
Mourinho’s first season in charge was hit and miss with injury to Harry Kane and players such as Christian Eriksen struggling to find any sort of form, but ultimately he managed to secure Europa League football for his new club. Considering Tottenham had become used to regular Champions League football under Pochettino, Mourinho’s last game of season celebrations seemed over the top. This though was not his team so it was a measured success and it was the start of the 2020/21 season that was hoped to be the real start of Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur tenure.
December 4, 2020, and Mourinho had Tottenham at the top of the Premier League. Recently, 12 games have resulted in just 12 points and seen Tottenham slip down the league to ninth. It has been a quick and worrying slide.
Early Season Energy Replaced by mid-Season Fatigue
The home defeat to Everton on the opening day of the season aside, Spurs produced some breathtaking energetic football, delivering superb performances against Southampton with a 5-2 away win and the 6-1 away thrashing of Manchester United. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were almost telepathic in their play, Tanguy N’Dombele was rejuvenated and new signing Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg was running the midfield.
Counter attacking displays in 2-0 home wins over Manchester City and North London rivals Arsenal were Mourinho masterclasses. Tight defending from attack to defence and perfect counter attacks. All was going well but then, on December 16, a defeat away to Liverpool seemed to spiral Spurs into a rapid decline.
No Case for the Defence
Spurs went to Wolverhampton Wanderers, scored an early goal and then defended for the remaining 88 minutes – and were deservedly punished with two minutes left. It was a strange performance against a Wolves team out of form to score once and then hardly cross the halfway line for the rest of the game.
There were signs of that game being a one-off when Spurs brushed Leeds United aside but a home draw with Fulham, the home defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea, followed by a woeful away performance and defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion have left Jose Mourinho, his tactics and team under pressure.
Mourinho has constantly changed his back four from game to game. Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon have all played in the back four yet the manager still seems clueless as to what the best line up is. The wing-backs have also rotated with Serge Aurier and Matt Doherty playing on the right but neither shining. Matt Doherty was seen as a strong signing from Wolves but has struggled to show any form.
On the left, Ben Davies has become too slow to deal with attacking players and Chelsea and Manchester City players constantly got in behind him. Sergio Reguilon has been positive with his pace getting from box to box but an injury has kept him out of recent games.
Sanchez struggles with his positioning and has shown no signs of improvement when given his chance. His defending for Ilkay Gundogan’s second and Manchester City’s third goal on Saturday, February 13 summed up Spurs calamitous defending. A simple ball over the top just needed heading back to Hugo Lloris but instead, the Columbian fell over himself and looked like a seal seeking the sea, getting nowhere near his man.
Hugo Lloris Errors
French Captain, World Cup winner and Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has been a world-class goalkeeper. Like any keeper, he has made mistakes in his career but they are becoming more frequent and more costly. He was at fault for two goals in the FA Cup defeat at Everton and his performance against Manchester City was poor. He struggled to save an unconvincing penalty from Rodri and he was far too easily beaten at the near post for City’s second.
Mourinho has few options to change the keeper, but Joe Hart also is also error-prone and he will be loathed to change the captain at this stage of the season. It is down to Mourinho and Lloris himself to turn his form around.
With a dithering and error-strewn defence, strikers will face Spurs right now with glee in their eyes.
Daniel Levy Will Not Pull Trigger – Yet
Spurs chairman Levy will not pull the trigger on Jose Mourinho, despite the run of poor form and poor performances, but he will only remain patient for so long.
It is felt that Levy will give Mourinho until at least the end of the season before making any decisions, not least because he will need to consider the cost of sacking a manager on £15 million a year which will come at a high price. With the coronavirus pandemic meaning match revenue has been non-existent and the new stadium debts still needing to be paid, Levy cannot afford to pull a trigger that could financially damage the future of the club.
Results and Performances Must Change
Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur tenure has been full of ups and downs. It wouldn’t be Mourinho if that wasn’t the case but even he seems to have lost his spark in interviews. His players look fatigued, he looks tired and the energy and impetus of the early season Tottenham needs to return.
If Spurs continue on their current trajectory, and despite having a League Cup Final to look forward to, this season could end as a financial and footballing disaster. Mourinho must alter the form of Spurs, otherwise, it will be hard to see anything but another manager clearing his desk.