365 DAYS LATER: HOW HAS MOURINHO FARED IN HIS FIRST YEAR AT SPURS
Wednesday, November 18, 2019.
A date that probably has no meaning to many people, but to Spurs fans it felt like their entire world had ended.
After five delightful years at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur football club, and just five months after leading them to a Champions League final, Mauricio Pochettino was sacked.
Following the dismissal of the 48-year-old, Daniel Levy and the higher-ups at Spurs began the search for a new manager and it didn’t take long to find one.
Quite literally the very next day, multi-time Premier League champion and serial winner Jose Mourinho was announced as the club’s new manager.
And now we find ourselves a year on from that day, so has it been a successful appointment?
I’m going to take a look at each month of Jose Mourinho’s reign and assess whether it was good or bad, award a score rating out of 10 and then an overall assessment at the end.
November (well, half of it)
Jose Mourinho’s maiden voyage as Spurs boss came with a trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United and it’s definitely worth bearing in mind that the Lilywhites had not won away from home in the Premier League for 10 months.
But that unwanted streak was soon over, as Spurs beat the Hammers 3-2. The defence were a tad shaky at the end, conceding two late goals, but they hung on for an important three points.
Later in the month, Spurs secured their second Champions’ League group stage win with victory over Olympiacos and then in a carbon copy of the West Ham game, beat Bournemouth 3-2.
On the whole an extremely successful first three games for Mourinho, losing Ben Davies to injury wasn’t great and the defensive capitulation showed there was work to be done, but you can’t argue with three wins out of three.
The final month of the year saw Spurs pick up 10 points from a possible 18, and while there were some definite positives, the negatives took precedence.
Rather fittingly Manchester United were first up on the docket and a world-class performance from Marcus Rashford at Old Trafford handed Mourinho his first loss in charge of Spurs.
Throughout the rest of the month, Spurs earnt comfortable victories over both Brighton and Burnley, with Son Heung-Min’s strike against the latter being awarded the Premier League goal of the season.
The North-London natives also picked up an impressive win against Wolves, which saw Jan Vertonghen score a 91st minute winner.
Unfortunately, though, there were some real low points, an uninspiring draw with bottom club Norwich City and a real lesson in how to play football from German heavyweights Bayern Munich.
Alongside this, Chelsea rocked up to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium three days before Christmas and left with a lovely present of three points.
Although Spurs did win some games, the month was marred by some pretty terrible performances against other big six rivals.
2019 becoming 2020 spelled the opportunity for Spurs and Mourinho to have a fresh start with the New Year's day trip to St Mary’s, but it went about as terribly as you can imagine.
A gutless performance against Southampton, which resulted in a 1-0 defeat, was compiled even further when Harry Kane hobbled off 15 minutes from the end.
On a slight positive, Spurs were able to remain in the FA Cup beating Middlesbrough and forcing a replay in the next round from Southampton.
Amazingly, they left empty-handed from the home fixture against Liverpool, with Giovanni Lo Celso missing a near-open goal in the second half.
Spurs then went three Premier League games without finding the net in a tame goalless draw with Watford, but Son saved the month ever so slightly with his late goal that gave Spurs a needed win over Norwich.
Off the pitch, Spurs were able to acquire the signatures of Gedson Fernandes and Steven Bergwijn and while they were players with a lot of potential it couldn’t hide a poor month on the pitch that soon was worsened by the fact Kane was confirmed to be out until April.
VERY BAD 3/10
If February had ended on the 16th this would’ve been a fantastic month, sadly that’s not how it works, but after talking so negatively about the previous two months let’s start with a bit of positivity.
A Mourinho masterclass was delivered as Spurs triumphed over Manchester City, with debutant Bergwijn scoring a superb volley.
Spurs came from behind to best Southampton in the FA Cup and followed that up with a last gasp winner against Aston Villa courtesy of Son, but there was still 14 days left of the month and it soon started to go downhill.
A few days after his heroic winner in the Midlands, it was confirmed by the club that Son had suffered a broken arm.
Spurs would then go on to lose their next two games against Chelsea and Champions League round of 16 opponents RB Leipzig and albeit only by a margin of one in both, they were completely dominated and outplayed.
This month can definitely be split into two halves’, the first would be a staggering nine and the second a firm one, but as a whole they evenly balance each other out.
BIT OF GOOD, BIT OF BAD 5/10
Oh god, where to even start with this month.
The third month of the year was so bad for Mourinho that a point against Burnley is the highlight.
A humbling 3-0 defeat in Germany ended Spurs Champions League campaign, hopes of achieving any silverware were dashed when Spurs embarrassingly lost on penalties to Norwich in the FA Cup and a defeat to fellow top six rivals Wolves.
Mourinho was set for another meeting with his last team Manchester United but the safety of the county took precedence and the COVID-19 virus stopped all English football for nearly three months.
An abysmal month on the pitch was ended with a far more serious scenario facing the country off the pitch, which leads to March being the worst possible four weeks of the year.
Very (Very) Bad 0/10
Following the return of elite football with project restart, Spurs faced Manchester United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday, June 19.
Despite having Kane and Son back from injury, Mourinho’s side were second best for most of the 90, and some would argue were lucky to escape with a point.
With the task of trying to fit in every remaining game prominent, Spurs were next in action just four days later against West Ham, who they dispatched relatively comfortably.
It wasn’t exactly a glamourous return to action for Spurs but I’m sure many fans would’ve taken four points from six, especially with some less than pleasing performances.
Further showcasing the packed schedule, Spurs played seven games in July which saw a mixed bag of results with some definite peaks and troughs.
The shambolic 3-1 defeat to Sheffield United was a clear low, but at the opposite end of the spectrum it was derby day delight against Arsenal, as Toby Alderweireld’s header ensured a 2-1 win for Mourinho & co.
In between were two dull affairs, which included 1-0 victory over Everton and a goalless draw with Bournemouth but Spurs were able to close out the season with seven points from a possible nine.
Impressive victories at Newcastle and home to Leicester saw them in a good position to qualify for European football for the next campaign.
And Chelsea beating Wolves on the final day combined with Spurs hard-fought point at Selhurst Park saw them finish in 6th position, confirming European football for the 2020/21 season.
Overall a good end to the season for Tottenham and after a disappointing start ending with Europa League qualification was undoubtedly a positive.
Despite no football taking place, Mourinho was preparing for his first full season in charge with the chance to recruit some of the players he wanted ahead of the season.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Joe Hart and Matt Doherty all joined Spurs in August and all brought plenty of Premier League experience with them.
On paper they were hardly season defining signings but they were exactly what the squad needed to challenge for trophies in the coming season.
The first month of the new season, no fans, new faces but still the same old Spurs as Mourinho’s men yet again had a month of exuberant highs tampered with some real gut-wrenching lows.
The opening day defeat to Everton was certainly the latter, yet on the other hand the 5-2 triumph over Southampton was a real positive, spear-headed by the individual brilliance of Son & Kane.
A calamitous result against Newcastle was soon forgotten about as a weakened Spurs team battled hard against Chelsea to earn a spot in the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals via penalties.
In European competition Mourinho survived scares away to both Lokomotiv Plovdiv & Shkendija with some morale-boosting performances for Tanguy Ndombele, a player who struggled in his debut season in North London.
Coming out of September though the most news-worthy was off the field, after seven long years Gareth Bale returned to Tottenham Hotspur, bringing along Real Madrid teammate Sergio Reguilon to bulk out the Spurs squad with some truly talented footballers.
GOOD 8/10, (Bale pushes it up a bit)
A free-scoring display at Old Trafford one week, a monumental collapse home to West Ham the following week, the life of being a Spurs fan, October was a weird one to say the least.
19 goals in the months first four games, including seven for Kane, showed just how lethal the frontline was but three goals conceded in the final 12 minutes against West Ham showed how frail Spurs were at the back.
A spot in the Europa League group stages was confirmed in style with a 7-2 demolition of Maccabi Haifa, and in the opening fixture against LASK Spurs strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win.
But the following European matchday the previous success was undone by sheer grit and hard-work from Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp as Spurs succumbed to a 1-0 defeat.
Turf Moor had not handed Spurs the best results in recent years but Mourinho set Spurs up perfectly for the clash towards the end of the month, securing an un-glamourous but effective three points.
Carlos Vinicius & Joe Rodon joined Spurs before the climax of the transfer window adding to the ever-growing depth of the squad.
A positive month in hindsight but the bad parts were so terribly bad it meant most people forgot that Spurs spanked United in their own backyard earlier in the month.
Talk about coming full circle, we’re back in November, the same month Mourinho joined, and once again the Portuguese tactician is three undefeated, but an awful lot is different.
This time round Spurs were slightly less prominent on the goal front, scoring just five and far better defensively, conceding two.
Bale scored his first goal back in the win over Brighton, Kane struck late to snatch all three points from West Brom and Spurs got back to winning ways in the Europa League with victory in Ludogorets.
No world-beating performances occurred but they were highly effective and put Spurs in good stead for both competitions moving forward.
Managed 50: 27 wins, 10 draws and 13 losses.
For a team consistently challenging near the top of the Premier League not the best record on paper, but when you take into account the injury crisis Mourinho faced, it’s not a bad return at all.
Tottenham faithful saw glimpses of the Jose of old, but many probably felt he should’ve earnt more points and some embarrassing results did occur against the likes of Chelsea, RB Leipzig and one of Europe’s best outfits, Norwich.
However, the impressive tactical displays have outweighed the defeats. Kane is thriving in a creative playmaker role while also consistently finding the back of the net, Ndombele looks like a different player compared to last season and Hojbjerg has brilliantly steadied the ship in a holding midfield role he has made his own.
Now at the start of a full season with the players Mourinho wants under his wing, the sky could well be the limit for this exciting Tottenham Hotspur side.