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José Still Hungry for Success

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Mauricio Pochettino guided Tottenham Hotspur to the final of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League under a remarkable set of circumstances. 171 days later, the team was in disarray and the Argentinian was relieved of his duties at the north London side. Sitting in 14th place in the league and with a squad showing no hunger or desire, José Mourinho was appointed to turn Spurs’ season around.

José Mourinho’s coaching career started in the early 1990’s, working as a translator for then Sporting Lisbon manager Bobby Robson. Mourinho became an integral member of Robson’s technical staff and followed the Englishman to both Porto (1994) and later FC Barcelona (1996). At Barca, Mourinho would also work under Robson’s successor Louis van Gaal. Soon thereafter Mourinho began his managerial career and by the end of the 2003/04 season, aged just 41, Mourinho had already won six competitions with Porto – including two league titles and a Champions League.

The Portuguese manager has also enjoyed spells at Chelsea (2), Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Man Utd, winning an accumulative 19 trophies – including six league titles, as well as both the Champions League and Europa League (once each).

In November 2019 Mourinho added Tottenham to his already impressive CV and he won 5 of his opening 7 PL games as Lilywhites boss. Spurs gradually improved, losing just once in their final 10 league games, and managed an impressive 6th place finish which earned them Europa League qualification.

Spurs’ efforts in the cup competitions this past season were well below par. Their league cup campaigned ended before it started, really, as they succumbed to fourth-tier team Colchester United on penalties.

Pochettino and Spurs also suffered a humiliating defeat in the Champions League at the hands of German Champions Bayern Munich, who netted seven times at the New White Hart Lane. Their FA Cup run (under Mourinho) was cut short by Norwich City in the fifth round, also going out on penalties.

Spurs reached the knockout stage of the UCL as runners-up to group winners Bayern. Mourinho’s team crashed out of the competition, losing both legs of their Round of 16 tie versus German outfit Red Bull Leipzig, 0-4 on aggregate.

Harry Kane finished the league season with 18 goals, while Heung-Min Son notched 21 goal contributions with 11 goals and 10 assists.

Upon arrival Mourinho was already without key players Kane and Hugo Lloris, both out with injuries. Mourinho brought in two new players in his first window as Spurs manager, acquiring the services of Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn from PSV on a long-term deal and Portuguese midfielder Gedson Fernandes on an 18-month loan. Giovani Lo Celso had his loan move made permanent in the English capital. Spurs lost a huge creative asset in Christian Eriksen, who left in January to Inter.

Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen left the club after eight seasons. Unlike countryman Toby Alderweireld, Vertonghen (32) did not manage to land a new contract from Mourinho. Vertonghen departs having made 315 appearances for Spurs.

23-year-old Tanguy Ndombele was signed at the start of last season by Pochettino, however the French midfielder has found his playing time under Mourinho to be extremely limited. Ndombele’s days may be numbered at the London club and he is tipped to join Inter Milan, potentially as part of a swap deal between the clubs.

Ahead of the upcoming season, Spurs have secured the signing of midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (25) from Southampton. Danish international Højbjerg previously spent four years as a Bayern Munich player where he amassed 25 first-team appearances, most of them under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola.

Mourinho will be looking for some defensive reinforcements in the current transfer window and Leicester fullback Ricardo Pereira would be a great addition to Spurs’ backline.

North London also looks a favourable destination for Crystal Palace forward Wilf Zaha.

Having been relegated with Norwich, Max Aarons (20) & Todd Cantwell (22) will be eager to find a way back into the top flight. The duo may also be on Mourinho’s shopping list.

Before switching to the white side of London, José Mourinho had won a major trophy at every club he has managed. The 2020/21 season will be Mourinho’s third in the UEFA Europa League, having won the competition on both previous occasions. Spurs’ last trophy success came in the 2008 league cup. They are desperate to add silverware to their cabinet at their mega-stadium which opened in April 2019 and had a construction bill of £1 billion.

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