Jose’s Winning Start at Spurs

Image Credit- The Independent

The suddenness of Tottenham Hotspurs sacking Pochettino as their manager and the quick appointment of Jose Mourinho last week was a surprise to many.

Although Spurs have been struggling in recent months, the fact that Pochettino transformed the Tottenham team into one that consistently makes it into the top four and then become Champions League finalists convinced many he would stay in the role for at least a little longer.

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Mourinho’s criticisms of Manchester United for not giving him the money he wanted were also reappraised. If he had these complains at high- spending United how would he fare with the notoriously low spending Spurs?

These criticisms of Mourinho were somewhat silenced on Saturday when Spurs beat West Ham United 3-2 in the opening match of the day. This win was made more impressive by the fact it was at West Ham’s London Stadium, gifting the North London side with their first away win since 20th January.

In some ways this game was both a blessing and a curse for Mourinho, due to it being a fierce local derby. After Arsenal, most Spurs fans would likely tell you either West Ham or Chelsea are one of their most competitive rivalries. 

Winning the game has likely given the Tottenham team and their fans a much needed morale boost, and has given Jose some initial popularity with fans. On the other hand, had Tottenham lost this match Jose would have lost support from fans before his career with Spurs even had a chance to start. 

Thankfully for the new manager, they won. Some of the Spurs’ star players were in perfect form on Saturday, with Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura bagging goals in the first half. 

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Four minutes into the second half, Harry Kane netted another goal for the guests. Ironically, following Mourinho’s appointment as Tottenham manager, the West Ham social media team made a post highlighting the difficulties he has had with teams playing at the London Stadium before.

Mourinho’s side made a mockery of these criticisms and have put even more pressure on West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, whose side have been noticeably struggling in recent games. In their last seven games, West Ham have only gained two points. 

After conceding the two goals in the first half, the Hammers team were subjected to booing by their own fans as they retreated back into the tunnel.

The negative reception from their own fans, and perhaps a half-time “pep talk” from the manager, seemed to invigorate the hosts for the second half. Michail Antonio was brought on as a substitute and managed to score a late goal for West Ham, followed by another, netted by Angelo Ogbonna.

This scorecard has given the game the appearance of being a fairly even match – but clearly, Spurs were clearly the better team throughout both halves, with more possession, more shots and more shots on target. 

The loss to a local rival at home who have only just been appointed a new manager has cast doubt on Pelligrini’s career at West Ham. This is the East London clubs latest defeat following a 3-0 defeat away at Burnley and a 3-2 defeat at home to Newcastle United.

However, there also needs to be some reflection on what has been going on behind the scenes at Tottenham Hotspur. The future of midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has been key to Spurs increased success over the past few years, has been put into question lately. He was put on the bench by Mourinho on Saturday, a recognition of his decline in performance this season.

Furthermore, the fact that Spurs have been struggling for much of this season until the change in management is a sign of possible back-room problems. It could be the case that Pochettino has fallen victim to poor manager-player relations, ironically similar to what happened to Mourinho at Manchester United. 

There is always the possibility that after a few months in charge at Spurs Mourinho, who has always been a figure of controversy, may fall victim to this again.