Away day blues continue for Tottenham and Mourinho has a real challenge on his hands

It was thought that once Jose Mourinho had stepped in as manager of Tottenham that the club would improve on their appalling away game record but in essence the special one is yet to find the right balance in the squad and Tottenham are being put through their struggles.

This was underlined in the teams New Year’s Day match away to lowly but in form Southampton who beat Tottenham 1-0 in what was seen as a surprise result. It was another defeat for Mourinho too charged with the task of taking Spurs to the next level which seemingly former manager Mauricio Pochettino was not able to do.

But have Tottenham really improved since Pochettino was sacked? Tottenham had 14 points from 12 games, so 14 from a possible 36 points which works out that the club had a points win of 40%. Since Mourinho has come in he has presided over 9 games so from a possible points total of 27 Tottenham have earned 16 points that works out at 60%. So yes there has been an improvement since Mourinho has been in charge.

However saying that did anyone expect Tottenham to have already lost 3 times in those nine games? Also in Pochettino’s first 9 games of the season he had lost three too. Statistically a Tottenham team being managed by Mourinho is earning more points, just, and it is getting even more marginal as the games go on.

Pochettino had a win rate of 54.3% and Mourinho currently has 54.5% these take in all games. Again there is nothing in it and of course we are looking at Mourinho’s records where he has only just joined the club. What might be worrying for Mourinho though is that he is following a trend of hitting under a 60% win rate which has followed him ever since he returned to the Premier League in 2013. Before then it was normal to see him with 65-70% win rates a brilliant figure and even getting early to mid win rates of 50% is good, but it’s clearly not Mourinho level good.

Tottenham have lost 4 games with Mourinho in charge in all competitions from 11 games and that doesn’t seem to be a great record. Although one of those losses was against Bayern Munich in a Champions League match which was a dead rubber game anyway. But defeats in the league have occurred against Chelsea, Manchester United (two of his former clubs) and Southampton. On Boxing Day they found themselves a goal down against Norwich and drew that match in the end. The problem is when Mourinho arrived Tottenham could not win an away game, and they have hardly improved on the road.

They did of course beat West Ham in what was Mourinho’s first game in charge of Tottenham at London Stadium and that ended up being the clubs first away win since January. Since Mourinho joined the club have played 5 away games and won 2 of them and that second win came at Wolves in a match that was clearly heading for a 1-1 finish before Tottenham scored in the final minute of injury time. Still a win is a win but it did seem to paper over some of those away day blues.

In total Tottenham have earned 7 points from the 15 available on the road, that isn’t a terrible record by any means but for a club who need to finish in the top 4 it is.

The bottom line is that under Mourinho from what we have seen in a short space of time there has been minimal improvement. But with fairness to Pochettino his record is obviously over a longer period and from what we have seen this may not bode well for Spurs under Mourinho. A team under the Portuguese used to be much more disiplined at the back and simply more difficult to beat full stop.

In the summer Mourinho will inevitably be given funds but will they be used wisely? He has never been able to re build a team, partly because he leaves after 3 seasons usually. This has not been the start that Tottenham fans would have wished for and the club will need to find more consistency if they have any hopes for a 4th placed finish this season. The only good news actually lies away from Tottenham which is the team in 4th place, Chelsea, seemingly do not want it, and are dropping far too many points to warrant their current position.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

 

Frank Lampard will feel he has managed 3 seasons in his first 4 months in charge at Chelsea

The Chelsea players may not have realised it yet but if their manager Frank Lampard’s hair goes grey before the end of the season they would have contributed to it.

In some ways Chelsea’s poor start to the league campaign which in fact only lasted one month made perfect sense. Lampard is young very inexperienced and the club had a summer transfer ban on players not to mention they had just lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. Let’s face it Chelsea could have finished 8th this season and the board would not have blinked, Lampard a club legend always had a pass in his debut manager season for the Blues.

For once under performing was of no great concern, just get enough points on the board and some deep cup runs, and go with the flow. But this young Chelsea team didn’t read the script and instead went on a blazing run, winning games, beating teams and scoring lots of goals. They settled into 4th place very nicely and it was at that point that the club started to lose games. Chelsea have made keeping 4th place much harder work than it ever should have been. True they currently have a 4 point lead to 5th but at one point that was 9.

One of the biggest surprises for Chelsea is that they are actually performing better away from home, only just but it’s still a surprise. We can cast our minds back to when Lampard was a Chelsea player and the club had such a proud home record once going 4 years at Stamford Bridge without losing a game. Now the club seem fair game against anyone. If you lose to Liverpool here it can happen but getting beaten by Bournemouth and Southampton shouldn’t be an option at home for a top 4 side but that is what has happened this season.

It must seem odd to Lampard that his side can lose so many games at home to bottom half table teams and yet in the last few weeks record wins against Tottenham and Arsenal both away for added measure. For this Chelsea could be seen as the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde team.  You just don’t know what is going to happen next and what team will turn up.

So because Chelsea have shown the board what they can do there has ended being way more pressure on Lampard than there should be. This team has proven after 20 games that they are good enough for the top 4. Drop out of that now and whilst his job won’t be under threat there will be a sense of disappointment.

The likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and perhaps Sheffield United and Wolves will have their say and try to make life harder for the Blues. With the top 3 looking like it be wrapped up by Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester that leaves a mad dash for 4th, who will get it is anyone’s guess, but Lampard will be determined not to give it up now, even if his hair does go grey.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Jose Mourinho has already been exposed with new club Tottenham

It is early days in the Jose Mourinho story at Tottenham and there is no denying that the club have played some great football under him. However it is also true that his start has been slightly bumpy with the club losing 3 of their 8 games under Mourinho’s wing.

The clubs latest loss is the one that is going to hurt the most. Losing home league matches is pretty alien to Mourinho. He once went 150 home league games unbeaten and remained unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in his first term at the Blues. You could count on one hand how many home league games he has lost in his career but bang, it has already happened at Tottenham in under a month.

That loss was like rubbing salt in the wounds given that it came against one of his former employers in Chelsea and that the manager Frank Lampard used to play under Mourinho, what comes around, goes around and all that…. The defeat left Tottenham swinging to 7th place and they are now 6 points from a top 4 place.

Tottenham have also lost against Manchester United another former Mourinho team and they also lost in the Champions League away to Bayern Munich 3-1. This feels like a gung-ho Mourinho side and the last time we could say that about a Mourinho team was when he was in charge of Real Madrid in his first season in Spain. Once Madrid were slaughtered 5-0 by Barcelona he was determined to learn from those mistakes and finally turned it around, let’s just say Madrid stopped losing by those big score lines.

It will be fascinating to see what Mourinho does next at Tottenham because he has a team who like to attack, though they did look out of sorts and toothless against Chelsea. But in general this is a team who look like they can score coming forward but concede going backwards.

The clubs objective this season has to be playing Champions League football the next and Tottenham don’t seem to be up to speed enough to do this at this moment in time. Mourinho has bemoaned his lack of time with his players and the one thing he needs to sort out is the teams defence. In those 3 defeats the club have shipped 7 goals, and even when they win they have been conceding goals. Only the Burnley win which ended 5-0 has felt complete.

There is a long way to go for Mourinho at Tottenham and he has started like a speeding Ferrari that keeps hitting the curbs, can he steer the club in the right direction?

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

The heat is on for Wobbling Chelsea who could give up 4th place

It wasn’t long ago that Chelsea had made a statement in the Premier League and risen into the top 4. The objective at that point was simple: Frank Lampard’s team were going to finish in a Champions League position. As the weeks rolled on Chelsea opened up an 8 point gap on 5th place and whilst finishing higher than 4th didn’t really look on the cards, 4th was the position the Blues would have accepted after a summer that saw a transfer ban, Eden Hazard sold to Real Madrid and Lampard stepping into his first top flight managerial position.

In fact Chelsea had not started the season well but that was to be expected as they kept dropping points to teams they would have usually beaten and of course it all started in nightmare fashion when the club conceded 4 goals on the opening weekend to Manchester United. Many who bet on sports, particularly football, would have not expected Chelsea to finish in the top 4 following that devastating loss to United. In fact, most sports betting sites would have had odds which hinted that Chelsea were not a side expected to finish inside the top 4 in England earlier in the season.

But bolstered by their form in the Champions League, Chelsea ventured on and started to put a nice run of winning games together. Headed by youth in the form of Tammy Abraham the club have looked irresistible. Look at some of the results Chelsea have already pulled off this season; beating Wolves 5-2, Burnley 4-2 and Southampton 4-1. Not only were Chelsea winning games they were scoring goals for fun. They did lose against Manchester City and Liverpool but both of those games were incredibly close and they lost by the same score line of 2-1 on both occasions.

The problem for Chelsea now is that they are in a blip of sorts. True they beat Lille in the Champions League just yesterday and have qualified for the knock out stages, that is a massive tick right there. However their recent form in the league has suffered where they have lost 3 of their last four games. Defeats against Everton, Manchester City and West Ham have not helped their cause and the club have seen their points gap greatly reduced. They are still 4th with 29 points but Manchester United’s form has really picked up and the Red Devils are just 5 points behind Lampard’s team.

Chelsea have some difficult games coming up including away matches to Tottenham and Arsenal and those London derbies could take their toll. It will be interesting to see Lampard come up against former mentor Jose Mourinho in the Tottenham game but it is clear that Lampard will have nothing but respect for the Portuguese man who carved out such a brilliant trophy laden career for him.

If Chelsea do crack and finish outside of the top 4 there will be disappointment no doubt in the Chelsea ranks but at the same time this was always going to be a season where Lampard would get a ‘pass’, and rightly so. Next season and beyond is where he will be judged. So far this season Chelsea are doing well under Lampard’s guidance and to be fair there isn’t really much to complain about, though one suspects the pressure is growing for Lampard himself as he sees the gap to 5th cut by every passing week. Chelsea will play at home to Bournemouth at the weekend and they should have enough in the tank to beat them. Slip up again and 4th will be in real danger.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

6 classic Manchester United vs Tottenham clashes from the Premier League era

Tottenham 3-5 Manchester United, 2001

Spurs were in dreamland midway through this meeting at White Hart Lane, having established a 3-0 lead over the reigning champions thanks to goals from Dean Richards, Christian Ziege and Les Ferdinand.

Continue reading

Is Mauricio Pochettino destined to be Real Madrid manager one day?

One wonders how Florentino Perez reacted when he first heard the news of Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking as Tottenham Hotspur manager. After all, the Real Madrid president is known to be a big fan of the Argentine coach having twice tried, and failed, to lure him to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Just a few weeks ago, the news of Pochettino’s demise in North London would have sent speculation of a potential third attempt by Perez through the roof. Indeed, Real Madrid suffered a poor start to the season and after defeat to Real Mallorca a month ago it seemed that Zinedine Zidane was just more disappointing result away from being dismissed.

Since then, Real Madrid looked to have turned something of a corner. They have won four of their last five matches and have kept five consecutive clean sheets on the spin. Barcelona might still be top of La Liga, but there appears to be a greater sense of consistency around Zidane’s side at the moment.

For the time being, Zidane looks to be safe in his role, although there is no club more volatile than Real Madrid. Another poor run of results could see the Frenchman in trouble again and with Pochettino now free and available it might not take a lot to persuade Perez into making a managerial change.

Real Madrid could be pushed down this route through a heightened sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Pochettino is so well regarded at the top of the European game that he has been tracked by a number of clubs over the past few years. Bayern Munich and Manchester United, for instance, are both known to be long-term fans of the Argentine.

Pochettino will now be looking for his next project. He is not a manager in the mould of someone like Jose Mourinho or even Pep Guardiola, both of whom have a limited expiry date of around three seasons at any given club. Instead, Pochettino will surely look for a club where he can make a long term impression.

The problem for Real Madrid is that if they miss out on Pochettino now they may have to wait another five years until he is available again. Do they see Zidane as a long term solution or just a short term fix? The answer to that could determine whether or not Perez uses Pochettino’s availability as a threat to his current manager.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Tottenham will be Jose Mourinho’s biggest risk as a manager

Jose Mourinho has more or less always managed one of the biggest teams in the world. Real Madrid of course comes to mind and then there was Manchester United. Chelsea was another at the time when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich pumped a bottomless pit into the club. And so Mourinho going to Tottenham asks lots of questions and one of those is that he is about to take on his biggest risk but most exciting one of his career.

The Tottenham job reminds one of when the Portuguese joined Inter Milan over a decade ago. In that Inter are a big name in Italian football much like Tottenham remain a big name in English football. Though Mourinho went to Inter and completely changed their history by winning the Champions League and other titles the biggest difference is that he arrived at a club who were already champions. Tottenham have not lifted the league title since 1961.

This is what makes Mourinho being in the dug out at Tottenham so special. He is at a club that perhaps he wouldn’t have dreamed of managing say five years ago- and that of course is credit to Mauricio Pochettino.

Mourinho’s task for the rest of the season will simply be a top half finish. The first objective is not to be 14th come the end of the weekend. The second will be to move up to the top half of the season and the third will be European qualification. One can sense that owner Daniel Levy would just be happy at this stage for the club to finish in a Europa League position.

So how might Mourinho fare at Tottenham? Well the omens look good and bad. Firstly Mourinho has proven time and again that he is a serial winner. Everywhere he goes his clubs win trophies. Though Manchester United became the first club where he was unable to bring a league title and that seems very unlikely that he will do that at Tottenham. Liverpool and Manchester City simply seem to strong and Mourinho doesn’t stay at clubs too long. The contract that he has signed at Tottenham is to 2023.

But progress in the league and beating the big teams together with cup runs and wins is going to be the long term objective. At the end of the day for all the good football that came out of Pochettino’s side he won nothing with the club, the hope will be that Mourinho will bring countless trophies with him.

For now Daniel Levy is more than happy to have Mourinho as manager and likewise. They can be both ruthless, but at the same time when we look at the history of Mourinho’s spending and that Tottenham under Levy haven’t always spent the tens of millions that Mourinho will require there could well be friction between the two men.

For football fans though Mourinho joining Tottenham is massive news and fascinating at the same time, roll on Saturday afternoon when he will manage his first game away to West Ham who have their own problems.

Play the newest EPL fantasy game here https://epl-fantasy.com

A matter of time for Gareth Bale’s exit from Real Madrid

Gareth Bale knew how it would be seen back in the Spanish capital, he just didn’t care. Made a scapegoat and a punchline over the past couple years, the Welsh winger has been pushed to the edge at Real Madrid. The provocative flag he waved after Wales triumphant Euro 2020 qualification win over Hungary was just another episode in what has become an unsalvageable relationship.

“Wales. Golf. Madrid,” read the flag held in front of Bale by his Wales teammates as the player himself grinned mischievously. This has prompted an entirely predictable reaction back in Spain. There has been no shortage of faux outrage and condemnation from pundits who are too aware of the audience they are playing to.

Of course, the majority of the reaction has skipped over the nuance of the message Bale sent by waving the flag. It referenced the way the winger has been characterised by the Madrid media in recent times, putting his love for golf ahead of his commitment to his club. It was surely a barb in the direction of such media figures rather than at Real Madrid and their supporters.

Nonetheless, the drama of this week is just another sign that Bale’s exit from Real Madrid is just a matter of time. Of course, the Welshman came close to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer only for his move to the Chinese Super League to be called off at the last moment. January will surely see him walk out the door for good.

A return to Tottenham has got a lot more likely with the events of this week in North London. Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking has created an almighty disconnect between Spurs’ decision-makers and those in the stands. Daniel Levy will see Bale as a way to get fans back on-side and so there is a scenario in which the Welshman goes back to Tottenham, either on loan or on a permanent deal.

Jose Mourinho would also welcome the addition of a ready-made superstar as Tottenham’s new manager. Indeed, the pieces are falling into place for Bale to return to the Premier League, finally bringing an end to his tumultuous time at Real Madrid. In truth, he should have left before now, but the point of no return has this week been well and truly passed.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League – and Tottenham job could define the rest of his career

In the end, it was all over rather quickly. Following a day of rumours suggesting that his position was under threat, Mauricio Pochettino parted ways with Tottenham late on Tuesday night. Just eleven hours later the club had confirmed that Jose Mourinho would be the man replacing the Argentinian at the helm.

Continue reading

After Tottenham’s nightmare start to the Premier League season what do they need to do to get better?

In May Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was being hailed as a genius, by October his own fans wanted him out. What has gone wrong and how does Pochettino fix it?

Some will blame club owner Daniel Levy, after all he has been tight with his money in the past 18 months. Yes Tanguy Ndombele came for around £60m, and that was a big spend but Tottenham spent just over £70m net this summer. That sum just isn’t going to cut it when you have reached another level that Tottenham have excelled to. Champions League finalists last season and at the beginning of this one the club could be regarded as one of the favourites to win the league and yet they are languishing in the bottom half of the table. The least you expected of the club coming into November was to be 4th.

After a nightmare start where we have only witnessed very small examples of what made Tottenham such a force last season the temptation would be to sack Pochettino, but is this the right move? It would only be if he had lost the dressing room or simply lost the passion and desire with the club. He has in the past hinted to Levy to open up more funds, and it is unclear just how bad the friction is between them. But perhaps this could just be seen as a bad moment for the club, why should for example a manager be sacked for three bad months?

Tottenham already have enough quality to be a top 4 team but they may have to settle for less this season. The truth is that some players like Dele Alli might have to move on, he clearly needs a new challenge. Then there is Christian Eriksen who thought a big deal would come through but it never did- is his head with the club? It seems unlikely it is.

The club clearly need to spend and that means over £100m and it has to be wisely, that’s why Pochettino should stay. He knows the club inside out and just needs some more encouragement to go forward. No matter who the club bring in next it will be starting from the beginning again. The problem of course is that modern football doesn’t work like that, if you don’t win, you’re out. Only a handful of exceptions exist. Arsene Wenger before at Arsenal and Diego Simeone currently at Atletico Madrid.

Pochettino in the current football climate looks like he is on borrowed time, but Levy and co would do well to ride this stormy wave and come out the other end, time will tell.

Play the newest EPL fantasy game here https://epl-fantasy.com