Has Jose Mourinho rediscovered his special touch?

After 5 successful years with Mauricio Pochettino who managed to raise the club into the Champions League, the tenure came to an end after a string of poor results and the Argentinian losing touch with the dressing room.

No one will forget what Pochettino did for Spurs, but just over a year ago a statement was made by the club owners. 

A lot was anticipated from Mourinho’s appointment, as he is one of the most decorated and high-profile names in football, but has anything changed over these past 12 months?

First of all, Mourinho has transformed the playing style of the team.

We watch a Spurs team who look settled, calm and composed on the pitch, even against the top competitors in a ‘high stakes’ match, an area Spurs have previously lacked in. 

Recently playing Manchester City, Spurs only had 33.9% possession and 2 shots on goal. They won 2-0 and took their chance to slot into first place of the Premier League.

Manchester City dominated the ball, firing 22 shots, but Spurs never appeared threatened. Every player knew their role and the pressure was soaked up remarkably by the team, starkly different to over a year ago when Spurs would try dominating the ball.

Now, when Spurs’ claws are firmly on the ball, they look a serious threat, the chemistry between the midfield and attacking players really has clicked this season. 

Usually Spurs get labelled as a club that don’t take their chances, but as we creep into the festive period, there has been no sign of that as of yet, and that’s down to Mourinho.

Spurs’ squad has also changed a lot to a year ago, as Mourinho has worked well with the club owner, Daniel Levy, in getting the players he needs. 

Offloading deadwood like Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose whilst bringing in fresh young talent like Steven Bergwijn in the January window was only the beginning.

Spurs’ summer was nothing short of outstanding. The club managed to bring in a selection of players whilst still operating in a sustainable way. Securing Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg from Premier League competitors was not flashy, but intelligent.

These players simply fix holes in the squad and have allowed rotation in the squad, an issue for Mourinho last year who was plagued by injuries. Højbjerg has stood out though as he looks to have fit in very well at Spurs, putting in consistently strong displays and taking charge of Spurs midfield.

Spurs have been crying out for a back-up to Harry Kane for years, who has often been unfairly pushed to the limit. 

Carlos Vinicius signed on loan, and has been slowly integrated into English football, where he has looked very bright on his appearances, predominantly in the Europa League.

However, Levy and Mourinho weren’t done there, pulling off one of the biggest transfer stories of the summer, bringing Gareth Bale home. 

They even put the cherry on the cake by bringing Bale’s teammate, Sergio Regulion to North London. Regulion has been nothing short of excellent, ticking all the boxes, allowing the Spaniard to jump straight into the first eleven.

But what is different? Most of these players, for one, have won trophies, something Pochettino’s signings lacked. This may not be the fault of the Argentinian, but more rather him just not possessing that influence over Levy and Mourinho having far more contacts. 

That winning mentality was something Jose was looking for, and it appears to be slowly trickling into the way Spurs play.

Jose didn’t have any depth last year, often reusing the same players for every competition, causing injuries to a variety of Spurs’ stars like Heung Min Son and Harry Kane. But currently, Spurs have a wealth of strong attacking options and are able to rotate defensively, which has reflected in their performances.

Lastly, ‘You cannot be nice’ was the phrase Mourinho pumped into the Spurs camp last season on the Amazon documentary. 

Spurs have not been nice this season, as the message looks well drilled into the players. Often stopping transitions on the ball by tactical fouls and players showing flare, grit and passion towards the opposition has given the North London side a new edge to their play.

Whilst this was not demonstrated during the shock 3-3 draw with London rivals, West Ham, earlier in the season, the Tottenham squad have appeared to reflect on this, as the same issues are not reoccurring. 

Since that result, Spurs have played 7 games, and have only conceded 3 goals. The defensive unit looks stronger, and aren’t afraid to get stuck in. A stark comparison to Mourinho’s first set of games with Spurs conceding 6 in 3 games.

Mourinho has embedded a fresh mentality into Spurs which has really kicked off this season. The Portuguese man has got the players he wants, and as the results roll in, who knows how far Jose could take the side over the coming years.

By Daniel Smith

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