On Wednesday night, Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford – the place where he was, rightly, last dismissed from a job.
The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ (although it was 2004 when he uttered that term, so maybe he gets a pass on that now?) is now the manager of north London club, Tottenham Hotspur.
In recent years, Spurs had been punching well above their weight thanks to Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine had endured a transfer-less summer window in 2018 to then lead his side to a first-ever Champions League final. They also achieved a fourth consecutive top-four finish in the English Premier League. All of this after Daniel Levy and the Spurs board had tightened the purse strings due to the club’s new stadium development.
In Mourinho, Spurs have hired the complete opposite – the anti-Poch, if you will. So, what’s the deal in place? Mourinho surely would not have agreed to a role where he knows he won’t be able to open the chequebook. Has Levy promised him a transfer kitty for January and next summer as well?
Some football fans believe this will be one of the final nails in the coffin of Mourinho’s career at top-level clubs.
His downfall had started at Real Madrid. Yes, he managed another league title in England upon his return to Chelsea in the 2014/15 season but he had changed. That spell in the Spanish capital damaged Mourinho as he faded in the shadow of Pep Guardiola and his unstoppable Barcelona side.
Can Mourinho survive with the Spurs squad he has currently? There is certainly a decent set of players still at the club. However, with rumours of serious rifts having developed between prominent first-team members over the last 12-18 months, Mourinho needs to display a level of man-management know-how which has never really been his forte.
The aim, for Mourinho, will be another top-four finish and a decent showing in the Champions League, maybe a run to the quarter-finals at least.
I think he’ll manage both. The short-term has never really been the issue for Mourinho. It’s when the introduction of youth team players is expected, or a plan that goes beyond one or two years is requested, that’s when Mourinho begins to struggle.
Maybe Daniel Levy is happy with the short-term saviour for now? Let’s just hope he doesn’t expect Mourinho to still be displaying any ‘Special One’ characteristics after 18 months in the job. That’s normally when the cracks start to show under any Mourinho regime of the last 8 years.
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