Tottenham’s unexpected sacking of Mauricio Pochettino signalled they had another trick up their sleeve. Lo and behold it is the Premier League’s human equivalent of a rash you can’t get rid of…. José Mourinho.
When looking back at the highs and lows of Pochettino’s career, we are led to all sorts of paradoxes. Pochettino is sacked by the board – yet adored by the fans. He leaves as Tottenham’s greatest ever manager, leading Spurs to the Champions League final for the first time in the club’s history – yet won zero trophies. Pochettino transformed the North London team – yet failed to win a single league game at the Emirates. As a regular in the top four of the table, no team would not hire Pochettino instantly with his confident and high-pressing, attacking style of football. With no trophies to look back on, Pochettino’s real success has come from developing the team that was given to him upon arrival back in 2014. Gareth Southgate certainly has a lot to thank him for as Pochettino’s ability to cultivate the club’s academy led to England’s national team thriving in the 2018 World Cup. There’s no doubt that Harry Kane, and co, would not be half as talented without Pochettino. Whilst other managers relied heavily on a successful transfer window Pochettino navigated having limited funds by instilling value into the players he had with the addition of a few key signings such as Son Heung-min.
But nobody can deny that Spurs are currently at their weakest in years, falling apart at 14th place in the Premier League table. Unfortunately, in the world of football it all does boil down to the number of trophies a team has and Spurs’ decision to sack Pochettino is a hugely ambitious move by the club. In his final press conference as manager Pochettino stressed the importance of rebuilding his team: “You expect better results than you get. Of course, we are in a process to build and we’ll see if we have time to build what we want.” Unfortunately, these words came back to bite him and the club fought back in the hopes of achieving ‘better results.’
However, Tottenham Hotspurs may have sabotaged any chance of rebuilding their team under the new leadership of José Mourinho. In the short term, Mourinho will undoubtedly get Spurs back into the top four with his winning mentality. It may even get them the trophies they desire. But Mourinho no longer has the Special One’s ruthless charm at Chelsea. While Mourinho has achieved the much-needed silverware that Spurs desire, his toxic tyranny will only damage Spurs in the long-term rather than build winning leaders. For example, Deli Alli will soon be Mourinho’s scapegoat and because of his current poor form and stubborn attitude, a clash is on the cards. The key youngsters who have thrived under Pochettino such as Deli Alli and Harry Winks stand absolutely no chance under Mourinho’s dictatorship and will have no future underneath him – like Luke Shaw found out at United. Mourinho can either make or break players, and Mourinho could make or break Spurs.
It is also hard to imagine how Mourinho and Daniel Levy, the current executive chairman of Spurs, will see eye-to-eye with Levy’s lack of spending directly contradicting Mourinho’s transfer window addiction. The most investment that Spurs have received is for their new stadium, not for new players. Ultimately no one can do a better job than Pochettino while Levy is still the owner, as it appears, he is the one holding Spurs back. The sacking comes at a very odd time especially with most sackings following a similar pattern with pressure and protesting from fans. By sacking Pochettino, Levy has rejected the support and patience that Spurs fans had for Pochettino and has instead made himself a target. Not only will Mourinho come under the firing line but Levy will fall victim if his decision fails. Unless either both Mourinho and Levy change their ways, it’s hard to see a worst fit than the feisty Mourinho and the equally stubborn Levy. It appears that Spurs are now sitting on a ticking time bomb.
Love him or loathe him, Mourinho has millions closely watching him right now and his ego is enjoying every moment; he will certainly hit the ground running and demand respect from the club whether they like it or not.
While Pochettino may feel let down by the club’s lack of patience he will not be out of work for very long. There are endless possibilities on where Pochettino could go next. Bayern Munich is an obvious choice with their interim manager. Manchester United is another option as they join the queue of disappointing clubs this season. Or maybe the next episode in this controversial saga could be a Sol Campbell 2.0 situation with a move to the Emirates as Spurs have proven they have no loyalties with Pochettino. Ultimately, the future looks bleak for Spurs and bright for Pochettino and it will be fascinating to see whether Mourinho makes or breaks Tottenham Hotspur.