Football Features

Five things learned from Mourinho’s first Spurs press conference

By Steve Jennings

Published: 20:43, 21 November 2019

The football world watched on as José Mourinho held his first press conference as Tottenham Hotspur manager on Thursday.

Mourinho was confirmed as the new Spurs boss on Wednesday morning, just a day after Mauricio Pochettino was relieved of his duties after five-and-a-half years in north London.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss is back in management for the first time since being sacked from his post at Old Trafford 11 months ago. And after overseeing two training sessions with his new players, Mourinho faced the media in Spurs colours for the first time.

A whole host of topics were covered, including his aims and objectives at Spurs, potential January transfer business, his style of play, Pochettino’s legacy and much more.

With that, we picked out five of the most interesting take-aways from the press conference.

1. Mourinho is eyeing a title challenge

Spurs had been tipped to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool this season. Instead they are currently 14th in the Premier League and 20 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Mourinho’s first job is to get Spurs up the table by winning games and possibly begin competing with the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City for Champions League qualification. In any case, Mourinho believes he can oversee a title challenge next season.

“We can’t win the Premier League this season,” he said. “Next season, I’m not saying we will win it, but we can win it.”

Spurs fans will be pleased to see an optimistic Mourinho come through the doors, but a title challenge next term will obviously depend on how the squad is managed in the next two transfer windows.

2. January signings seem unlikely

Much has been said about the state of Spurs’ current squad. Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen have all entered the final year of their contracts, leading to talk of an overhaul in January.

But there have already been reports suggesting Mourinho has been told there is no money to spend in the transfer window, which might explain his response to a question about potential business.

“The best gift are the players who are here. I don’t need new players. I just need to get to know these ones better,” said the Portuguese coach.

“I know them well but you never know them well enough until you meet them.”

Even if the club is secretly planning some January business, Mourinho will need time to fully assess his squad in order to decide which areas need addressing most urgently.

3. Same style of play, different “details”

Mourinho went on to claim he will adopt a similar style of play to that of Pochettino’s Spurs, but with different “details” stemming from his own philosophy.

He suggested his approach will be “adaptive”, taking into consideration the “club culture” and the players he has to work with.

“Very similar [style of play] to before,” Mourinho said. “Of course I will try to add details, and sometimes details can make the difference.

“Progressively we can arrive to a fingerprint. The style of play must be adaptive to the club culture and also the players here.”

Generally, Pochettino is considered to be a manager who embraces attacking flair, while Mourinho is keen on defensive details. It will be interesting to see how he combines those styles, if that is indeed the aim.

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4. The soundbites are back

There is a reason Spurs had to turn down a number of requests from reporters who wanted to attend the press conference. The media room was full because Mourinho can always be relied on to generate headlines.

Today was no different. The 56-year-old was in a jovial mood throughout, joking with journalists and laughing at the nature of some of the questions.

His best soundbite came when he was quizzed on something he said about Spurs during his Chelsea days. A journalist noted his previous promise to never manage Spurs because of his love for the Stamford Bridge faithful.

“Yes, before I was sacked,” he responded. It was vintage José, though it’s clear he has used his time off to be more mindful of his past mistakes.

He added: “I’m not going to make the same mistakes. I’m going to make new mistakes. I’m going to be stronger.”

5. Pochettino’s legacy is recognised

Before any of the above, Mourinho was keen to celebrate Pochettino’s time at the club, paying tribute to the outgoing Argentine with a tribute to his legacy at Spurs.

“I have to speak about Mauricio,” he said. “I have to congratulate him on the incredible job he did.

“I share with you what we shared inside. This club will always be his home, this training ground, his training ground. He is always welcome here. Tomorrow is another day. He will find happiness soon.

“He will give everything like he did at this club. He will leave with sadness with the feeling that he did great work. It is what everyone at the club felt.”

It is a genuine heartfelt message from one highly regarded coach to another. Now it’s up to Mourinho to take Pochettino’s team to the next level.