Bring back Mauricio Pochettino? Stuck with Mourinho?
It wouldn’t be possible, given the former Tottenham boss has now settled down at Paris Saint-Germain, but his tenure doesn’t look so bad after all. Pochettino was dismissed as Tottenham manager in November 2019 after a poor run of results, which had the club 14th in the Premier League. He has since been replaced by the experienced Jose Mourinho, but have things improved significantly enough to suggest that everything was justified?
During the 2018-19 season – Pochettino’s last full season in north London – he led them to a surprise Champions League Final. They lost to Liverpool, though reaching a first-ever European Cup Final was an achievement in itself.
Obviously, just reaching the Final isn’t good enough. Tottenham’s progression over the years has demanded silverware, yet so far there has been nothing to show for it.
You can perhaps understand the decision to draft in Mourinho.
The Portuguese has won the Premier League three times with Chelsea and won the Champions League with both Porto and Inter Milan. With Manchester United, he won the Europa League in 2016-17; plus two Serie A titles with Inter. He has a title-winning history and Tottenham hope to reap those rewards.
Except for Tottenham’s heavy defeat to Manchester City at the weekend leaves them ninth in the Premier League and having lost four of their last five games in all competitions.
The fact that when the two sides last met in November, Tottenham was top of the table really amplifies their decline over the past couple of months. Since that meeting, Tottenham has collected only 16 points from a possible 42, and are 17 points adrift of the league leaders.
Mourinho’s side are not going to win the title this season, so their hopes and dreams of collecting silverware in 2020-21 remain pinned elsewhere.
They face Austrian opposition RZ Pellets WAC in the Europa League knockout round later this month, before a repeat clash against a dominant Man City in the EFL Cup Final.
Their FA Cup adventure, meanwhile, came to an abrupt end in the fifth round at the hands of Everton last week. If Mourinho comes away at the end of the season without any silverware then chairman Daniel Levy has every right to be disappointed.
Will his future come into question? Likely so, given he is not fulfilling the brief assigned to him when replacing the ousted Pochettino.
Results aside, the problems continue to mount up for Mourinho.
Particularly the situation regarding Gareth Bale is a worry. Spurs fans were elated when Bale sealed a return to the club at the start of the season, but it’s been far from the fairytale comeback.
Bale has played only 16 times in all competitions, of which only seven have come in the Premier League. There’s clearly a breakdown in the relationship between manager and player, and it doesn’t look good because Bale is probably the highest earner at the club and isn’t playing.
Meanwhile, Dele Alli – a first-team regular under Pochettino – has been alienated to the point where he has played just 100 minutes of Premier League action.
Pochettino had a great rapport with the playing squad, yet the only thing missing was silverware. Mourinho really isn’t doing any better, and he has his work cut out now to restore some positivity to Tottenham’s faltering campaign.
Not only does he have to restore confidence among his players, he also has to re-establish the playing style that saw them soar to the top of the league at the end of 2020. Fans, in particular, will be concerned that the longer the club goes without silverware, the higher the chance that someone like Harry Kane will fly the nest.
It’s time for another Mourinho masterclass, otherwise it’s time to move on.