The stats suggest Mourinho has made a big impact at Spurs since taking over, but Abbi Summers feels it’s still too early for fans to accurately judge their manager.
Since José Mourinho’s introduction as manager back in November, he’s kept us all entertained with his touchline antics, new haircuts, and improved Spurs side. The stats don’t lie: Tottenham have picked up 26 points in the league, climbed from 14th to 5th, and are back in contention for a top four finish. But have things really changed under the new boss?
Earlier this season, Spurs had little luck but, thanks to our newfound 'play to the death' mentality, we’ve since been able to pick up late wins away from home against Wolves and Aston Villa. Considering we managed just one away win in 2019, such form suggests José's Spurs are definitely improving on the road.
However, despite what would appear an impressive start on paper, performances have still been sloppy – particularly defensively – with Tottenham ostensibly having to go a goal down before they start playing.
After clean sheets against Man City and Watford, it looked as though things were on the up, but the lack of communication between Lloris and Alderweireld at Villa Park, coupled with conceding two late goals at home to Southampton in the FA Cup, shows that individual errors and inconsistency remain ever present.
For a historically defensive manager, the team is conceding far too many goals. The tinkering at the back isn’t helping.
Further to our defensive frailties, there largely hasn’t been a recognisable game plan or style of football. Gone are the days of well-worked set pieces and fine play that we’d become accustomed to. Nevertheless, football is about results, and while it's not pretty, Spurs are getting the job done.
Considering the injuries to key players, you have to commend José for the turnaround in results. He can only work with what he’s got. He’s by no means inherited a bad team, but it’s not at the level it was a few seasons ago and a rebuild is still required.
Without Kane leading the line, it’s harder for José to play the route one football he loves, and he may have finally realised that pumping it up to a five-foot-six Lucas Moura isn’t the best option (where’s Fernando Llorente when you need him?).
Tottenham created little against City but were clinical in front of goal whereas against Villa, created the most chances they have all season but missed the target countless times. For the first time in a while, the team attempted to build out from the back, showing there can be an attacking edge to Mourinho’s style. It won’t always be a case of parking the bus.
In terms of Mourinho’s January transfer activity, shifting Rose and Eriksen on were good moves, as it’s given the likes of fan favourite Japhet Tanganga more of an opportunity. In addition, extending Alderweireld’s contract was an achievement in itself.
With the additions of Gedson Fernandes and Steven Bergwijn, it’s clear the type of player he’s looking to bring in, and it’ll be interesting to see the signings José makes in the summer…assuming he’s given the pot of gold Daniel Levy must have promised him.
For now, though, the jury is still out, and judging Mourinho’s debut season as a success will depend heavily on Tottenham’s final league position, how they fare in the Champions League, and our FA Cup run.
In seasons past, there hasn’t been too much importance placed on the cups, but a piece of silverware and Champions League football next season would definitely be a start in winning over the fans, who are still very much on the fence over the ex-Chelsea boss.