We didn’t think it would happen. But it has. Jose Mourinho really has replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham, so naturally we assembled to discuss what happened, why it happened and what happens now.
Firstly, why have they made the change at all?
“I think they’ve panicked,” said James Horncastle. “They’ve looked at where they are in the table, and given how much they’ve spent on the stadium, they need to be playing in the Champions League, they need to be bringing in that money.
“[Pochettino] is a victim of his own success given the wage bill, given the transfer spend, he’s consistently over-achieved.”
“The reports are that the players have grown weary of Pochettino’s methods,” said Nick Miller, “that the players were being pushed in every training session and game so they just can’t really run anymore, which is reflected in how they have been playing recently.
“But you could also say that isn’t really his fault because it’s the same group of players. He’s flagged all these problems about the squad going stale, which haven’t been fixed and now he’s been perhaps disproportionately blamed for these problems.”
So having made the change, what of the replacement? One thing is relatively clear: he will have to change, most notably his man-management.
“The names you think about are Frank Lampard and John Terry,” said Matt Davies-Adams, “15 years ago, and not Paul Pogba and this new generation of players – ‘millennial’ players, if you like, that he’s maybe not shown the capacity to empathise with. You think: how’s a Son-Dele Alli handshake going to go down? Not well, probably.
“Maybe this is part of what will change. He’s an extremely intelligent man with a fabulous track record, bar maybe the last couple of years, so adaptability has got to be one of his key traits.
“There will be players in that squad that will be just to his taste – Harry Kane is one that stands out, Son Heung-min is another as a tireless, hard-worker – but there are others that he will have to win over.”
And James Horncastle thinks that some new advice means Jose will, and can change.
“If you disregard what happened at Manchester United, or rather look at United through the prism of what has happened since he left, where it hasn’t got any better and in fact it’s got worse: do you say he’s still a good manager?
“And has he changed? He has added to his PR team since he left United, who have said ‘you need to rehabilitate your image, you need to change the way you speak. He’s done this repeatedly on Sky, saying that ‘when I come to work next time I will be very careful about the club I choose, I will choose a club with a project, with someone who believes in me, somewhere with the right football structure.’
“In the statement he hit on two of the criticisms that always come of Mourinho – he said he’s really excited about working with the Academy, because he loves young players, and the other thing is about the heritage of the club.”
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