Tottenham Hotspur left the footballing world on its heels both last night and early this morning as the club announced the shock sacking of Mauricio Pochettino before naming a certain Jose Mourinho as his replacement. A series of events that very few would have seen coming, even in the results orientated economy that top level football has become. Horrific domestic form over the course of 2019 led the Spurs hierarchy to make the brutal decision to dismiss Mauricio Pochettino after his record breaking stint at the club. A Champions League final just six months ago was not enough to save Poch as poor results and an evident rift between the changing room, manager and board led to a significant downturn in Spurs’ superb progress over the last few years.
Indeed when breaking down the numbers of Spurs domestic form this season it probably shouldn’t be so surprising that another top flight manager has lost their job. Spurs, currently in fourteenth, are eleven points off the top four after just twelve games. They have only managed to amass twenty-four points in their last twenty-five league games and are without an away league victory since January. Reading that is usually related to a side in severe danger of being relegated. Yet clearly there is a great deal more to the story than these dreadful domestic numbers. The heavy slump in form domestically last season was countered by one of the most dramatic Champions League runs in the modern era with Spurs so close to ultimate glory under a manager who gave everything in attempting to take his side to an elite level.
And of course it’s common knowledge that in the wake of a new stadium being built, Pochettino was not given the funds he required when his squad was coming so close to domestic glory season after season. And now after seeing out those more gloomy times to see the arrival of the spanking new stadium and training ground now finally built, it would be fair to say Pochettino being unable to utilise the club’s new financial freedom is somewhat of a travesty. Pochettino stuck by Daniel Levy and co when the times got tough and when the reverse happened the former Spurs manager was seen as surplus to requirements. Despite publicly stating he wanted to rebuild his legacy at Tottenham now the infrastructure was in place to do so. And not being given this chance will be seen by some supporter’s as a deep betrayal of manager who will go down as of the best in the club’s history to date.
Pochettino’s sudden and shocking departure in the second week of the international break made a little more sense when Jose Mourinho was sensationally named Spurs’ new head coach under twelve hours after Poch was fired. Mourinho, with three premier league titles under his belt, will remarkably embark on his fourth stint as premier league boss. After being sacked himself less than a year ago by Manchester United and after dabbling in a bit of punditry, Mourinho will now do what he said would never do (back in 2015 as Chelsea boss) and manage another London team. Indeed, his new role might even surprise Jose himself as thesixyardring doubts even a man of his lofty ambitions saw being Spurs manager in his future after his long and successful history with Chelsea.
With the footballing world still unable to properly process such a sudden shift in policy from Spurs, it will be take time to assess whether Mourinho can reignite his career and re-position himself as one of the best managers in the world. The self anointed ‘Special One’ is no doubt the winner that Spurs will need in order to deliver the silverware they so desperately crave. However, many will wonder whether Mourinho’s best days in management are behind him as his paniful exits from Chelsea and United in the past five years will no doubt have taken a heavy toll on him (whether he admits it or not). Another issue many will point to will be how Mourinho will navigate his relationship with the Spurs’ hierarchy, something Pochettino had an extremely tricky time doing. Mourinho, especially after being unable to improve his squad as he wanted to at United, will want the full financial backing of the board. And it remains to be seen if Mourinho’s and Daniel Levy’s estimations of the budgets needed will match up as the transfer windows roll by.
Whether Mourinho is the hit Spurs hope he will be or not, the simple fact that he not Pochettino will lead Harry Kane and co into the fixture at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon is a truly amazing development that basically no one saw coming. Indeed, many thought any North London sackings this transfer window would come from The Emirates yet instead it is Spurs who have decided to roll the dice on what will surely be Jose’s last crusade in premiership management (I mean surely right?). For a club that has prided itself of longevity and structure in the past five years, Spurs’ actions in the last twenty four hours have been remarkable and if anything highlight how football is now purely a results business. And if business is bad, you’re gone.
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