In one of the most ruthlessly efficient manager swaps in recent memory, Jose Mourinho has replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur before most fans have even had chance to wipe away the tears.
After guiding the club to a first-ever Champions League final just mere months ago, and that incredible show of emotion after beating Ajax in the semi-final, this feels absolutely savage. Daniel Levy has channelled his inner-Walt Disney, killing Bambi’s mother and launching Mufasa off a cliff.
But, as spotted by eagle-eyed Reddit user Joseph4820, every single club to have faced Ajax in last season’s Champions League now has a new manager. So should we really be so surprised?
Regardless, what’s done is done. Levy clearly wants trophies and reports suggest Pochettino had alienated the Spurs dressing room through over-the-top demands.
So, what are the big ramifications of this monumental dugout reshuffle and what should we expect from Mourinho on his managerial return? At Squawka, we’ve taken a deep dive into every angle you could imagine.
Key things to remember about Jose Mourinho
- Clubs managed: Benfica, União de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea (x2), Inter, Real Madrid, Man Utd, Tottenham
- Major trophies won: Primeira Liga x2, Taca de Portugal 02/03, Uefa Cup/Europa League x2, Champions League x2, Premier League x3, FA Cup 06/07, League Cup x4, Serie A x2, Coppa Italia 09/10, La Liga 11/12, Copa del Rey 10/11
- Key stat: Mourinho has never had a managerial spell longer than three years…
- …but he has delivered at least two major trophies in each of his last six jobs.
- Mourinho’s long-term assistant, Rui Faria, now manages Qatari club Al-Duhail SC, so Joao Sacramento will leave Lille to take up that role in a wide-ranging shake-up of Spurs’ backroom staff.
I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters. The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.
Mourinho on his Spurs appointment
The biggest winners and biggest losers among Spurs players
Winner: Eric Dier
It’s been a tough old year for Eric Dier. After the euphoria of scoring the winning penalty during England’s World Cup shootout win against Colombia in 2018, the 25-year-old has spent most of the time since struggling with illness, injury and pretty much any other setback you can think of. As a result, he lost his place in Pochettino’s side, starting just two Premier League games so far this season.
But that all might be about to change as, according to the Telegraph, Mourinho is a big admirer of the holding midfielder. The Portuguese tactician is renowned for his pragmatic, hard-to-break-down style of play and having a midfield destroyer like Dier sat in front of the back four might just suit Mourinho perfectly, as well as providing a reboot for the England international’s stuttering career.
At the time of writing, Dier’s value on the Football Index stock exchange has already seen a 47.05% rise in just a 24-hour period – it’s clear that many see him undergoing a revival under Mourinho.
Loser: Harry Winks
While the physically imposing Dier might perfectly suit Mourinho’s style of play, Harry Winks is a deep-lying midfielder who might not experience as much joy following this managerial switch.
Winks has actually struggled to get into the Spurs side this season under Pochettino, as well, but his goalscoring performance for England against Kosovo last week would have given him renewed hope of breaking back into the starting XI.
With Mourinho’s list of holding midfielders previously having featured more bullish types such as Nemanja Matic, Sami Khedira and Esteban Cambiasso over the years, it’s hard to see how the deft and diminutive Winks fits in.
Winner: Toby Alderweireld
It wasn’t so long ago that Mourinho was fighting tooth and nail to persuade Ed Woodward to bring Toby Alderweireld to Old Trafford during his Man Utd days. Now, he’ll get the chance to manage the Belgian in north London.
From John Terry to Lucio, with the likes of Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe along the way, Mourinho has an obvious penchant for strong, authoritative leaders at the heart of his defence. No Spurs player has made more blocks (14) or clearances (46) in the Premier League this season than Alderweireld, while no defender at the club has won more aerial duels (24).
Loser: Davinson Sanchez
Davinson Sanchez was in the Ajax starting XI for the 2017 Europa League final, in which Mourinho’s Man Utd ran out 2-0 winners. According to the Independent, one of Mourinho’s tactical plans for that game was to “allow” Sanchez to have the ball while closing down Matthijs de Ligt more efficiently.
It’s well known that Mourinho often skips out the first phase of build-up play and often likes to get the ball high into the midfield as quickly as possible But, given Sanchez has been tactically targetted by Mourinho in the past, might the 56-year-old still harbour doubts over his ability?
Winner: Harry Kane
Harry Kane has scored a ludicrous amount of goals for Spurs over the past five years and paid an emotional tribute to Pochettino on social media recently. On face value, it would feel like he would be a loser in this situation.
However, Kane, just like Pochettino, is yet to lift any silverware in his career and despite bubbling on the edge of mind-bending genius for some time now, has never quite been held in the same esteem as, say, Robert Lewandowski.
Kane is Mr Tottenham. Under Mourinho, he might well be named captain and pushed to the very highest footballing echelon by a manager steeped in success and experience in dealing with the absolute elite.
At the time of writing, Kane’s value on Football Index is at an all-time high of £6.06 per share and has seen a 10.94% increase in just 24 hours. There’s a clear feeling he will be one of the main beneficiaries of Mourinho’s appointment.
Enigma: Christian Eriksen
It’s quite clear from his recent punditry work – which adds another beautiful layer to this already intricate story – that Mourinho isn’t a fan of Christian Eriksen’s attitude.
“I don’t like to keep players that don’t want to stay at the club,” the former Chelsea boss said of Eriksen recently. “I think it is always really difficult. I am not thinking about the economic perspective, I mean from a motivational point of view.”
The Denmark international has been quite frankly terrible for Spurs this season, notching just two goals and one assist across in the Premier League and Champions League.
This really could go one of two ways. Either Eriksen will get his head down under a new manager and earn his big move to the Real Madrids of this world, or he’ll continue to underwhelm and underperform, further villainizing himself to the Spurs fanbase.
3. How Spurs could line up under Mourinho
Based on the starting line-ups fielded for the first games of Mourinho’s two most recent appointments – Chelsea and Manchester United – it feels like a safe bet Spurs will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for their trip to West Ham on Saturday.
We’ve already mentioned the Portuguese likes strong leaders in defence – a la Terry and Gary Cahill at Chelsea – who are shielded by physically imposing and/or industrious holding midfielders, such as Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Ramires.
With that in mind, we’re likely to see the experienced pairing of Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen start at centre-back, pushing Sanchez and Juan Foyth to the sidelines, while a holding midfield duo of Dier and Tanguy Ndombele will provide plenty of legs and stability – the latter is also a capable ball-carrier and creator should Mourinho wish to be more progressive.
Behind all that, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris – who remains a long-term absentee – has already hinted that Pochettino was the only thing keeping him from moving to North America to sample MLS, so Paulo Gazzaniga might well become the first choice between the sticks, at least in the short term.
Kane will obviously lead the line but behind him, Mourinho has often tried to combine pace, goalscoring threat and creativity into his trio – his Martial, Rooney, Mata and Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne trios in the above graphics illustrate this perfectly.
Heung-min Son will provide the electric pace trickery from the left-hand side, while Dele Alli will use his footballing intelligence and eye for goal to support Kane up front. Eriksen might well be an enigma but when the Denmark international is on form, he’s easily Spurs’ best playmaker. Don’t be surprised to see Mourinho field Eriksen on the right, allowing him to cut inside and combine with the likes of Alli and Kane. The athletic Serge Aurier will charge into the space vacated by Eriksen but both players could be temporary solutions for Mourinho…
Will Spurs treat Jose to a January transfer?
…which leads us nicely to the transfer market.
Mourinho is obviously going to want to build this Tottenham side in his image. So, will Levy back his new manager? Who could they potentially target? And who could they actually get?
Here are a few options:
- Gareth Bale: His celebrations with the Welsh national team recently will certainly have those back in Madrid up in arms. A return to Spurs has long been touted for Bale, while he was also linked with United during Mourinho’s time there. This would certainly be romantic.
- Paulo Dybala: This one looked almost certain to happen over the summer but since then, Dybala has managed five goals and two assists for Juventus, winning his starting place back. Spurs fans would love this one, but would Maurizio Sarri sanction a deal?
- Bruno Fernandes: Bruno Fernandes, who actually agreed to join Spurs last summer, remains one of the hottest properties in Europe. Mourinho is most likely going to need an Eriksen replacement and the Portuguese connection could tip the scales.
- Ricardo Pereira: Aurier will fill in at right-back for now but he’s been far from convincing and Mourinho will make this position a top priority. Ricardo Pereira has been a revelation for Leicester this season and according to Football London, Spurs are one of a number of clubs shooting admiring glances his way.