Jose Mourinho, Second Season Syndrome and the Tottenham trophy drought | THT Opinions

In Jose Mourinho’s first full season in charge of Tottenham, we discuss the probability of the Premier League club finally ending their trophy drought.

After Tottenham’s incredible Champions League run ended in heartbreak, things had not been the same. Up until THE serial winner, Jose Mourinho became in charge of things at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium of course.

The Portuguese took over from Mauricio Pochettino while Spurs were languishing at fourteenth in the 2019/20 Premier League and rallied Spurs to a dramatic sixth-place finish on the last matchday, earning them a spot in the Europa League qualifiers.

Come Mourinho’s second season, things are looking optimistic for The Lilywhites. Having attained qualification to the Europa League, a quarter-final place in the Carabao Cup and improving form in the league, a trophy could be well on its way for Tottenham; and who other than Mourinho to add a trophy to the cabinet that has now waited twelve long years.

Mourinho’s second season syndrome is no joke. He has won a league title, if not more, at each of his previous five clubs, except Manchester United where he finished second and claimed it to be one of his greatest achievements. While a league title in his second season could be a long shot, there’s no denying that Mourinho magic is at its peak during this phase.

Under Pochettino, Tottenham had some successful campaigns. They came close to winning the title a couple of times, lost semi-finals of domestic cups and even a Champions League final, as mentioned before. He elevated Spurs from a mid-table side to regular contenders for the top spots. Pochettino was a pragmatic tactician who got Tottenham to play with style, but his inability to earn rewards for those performances saw him eventually get the axe. 

When Mourinho was appointed, many people doubted him. People claimed that he played an outdated style of football and could no longer compete with the likes of Guardiola and Klopp, who have ‘revolutionised’ English Football in recent times.

The spotlight, as always, is on Jose. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
The spotlight, as always, is on Jose. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

However, it seems that Mourinho’s sabbatical after the United job has changed things. He seems to back to his charismatic self as his press conferences are no longer a burden to watch, unlike his Man United days. Several days off with his technical team has allowed him to rethink and tweak his style of football. After all, Mourinho isn’t all about parking the bus.

He has managed free-scoring teams and top-scoring forwards before and aims to similarly transform Spurs. Mourinho seems to have won over the Tottenham camp and has managed to channel their hunger for a trophy in a positive direction. The end to the 2019-20 season showed that Mourinho still has the same DNA from his Porto days.

With a strong finish to last season, Mourinho has managed to convince chairman Daniel Levy to back him in the transfer market – something which former manager Pochettino was unable to. Jose, Levy and Co. have done some astute business in the transfer market and have themselves an extremely talented and versatile squad.

Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon are both incredible players in their positions and give a new dimension to the backline. Defensive midfielder Hojbjerg fits Mourinho’s style of play like a glove and only cost a mere £3 Million in a swap deal that saw Kyle Walker-Peters head the other way.

More importantly, Spurs finally signed a forward to support Harry Kane over the long season, with Carlos Vinicius joining on loan. However, the most impressive of all these signings has to be that of Gareth Bale. The Welshman’s return is truly poetic and it is believed to be personally driven by chairman Levy who seemed to have wanted him back from the moment he left in 2013. It’s true, Levy loves Bale. 

Homecoming! (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Homecoming! (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

What’s truly spectacular about this transfer window is that all these deals were made in an extremely cost-effective manner. Both Mourinho and Levy got their men and at reasonable prices too. Tottenham now have a deep squad which allows them to set up in more ways than one.

They could play Jose’s classic 4-2-3-1 with a creative attacking midfielder or a more modern 4-3-3 with three hardworking midfielders. Spurs could also set up with 5 at the back, as his wing-backs possess blistering pace and the ability to provide end product as well. Mourinho demands a style of play that is compact and sturdy from the centre and electric in wide areas. This is exactly what his current team provides as he Jose looks to put in a realistic title challenge. 

While the preparation for this season by Spurs has been nothing but brilliant, they must use the depth and momentum that they now have to deliver results in the long term. The most crucial part of that would be Harry Kane and his fitness.

When fit, Kane is arguably the best striker in the Premier League. Kane scored 25+ goals for three consecutive seasons from 2015-2018 when Spurs posed a constant title challenge under Pochettino. Plagued with injuries of late, Kane has been unable to replicate the form that he is best known for.

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However, Kane has fifteen goal contributions in eight appearances this season and looks transformed under Mourinho. Mourinho hit out at pundit Paul Merson for his criticism of Harry Kane during Project Restart, and it seems like the Portuguese meant his words. Accompanied by the lethal Heung-min Son and soon, Gareth Bale, Tottenham have a front three that could make any defence shiver.

Spurs look well-equipped to end their trophy drought. With a project heading in the right direction under a manager of the highest quality at a world-class stadium, Tottenham is a club to have your eyes on. A title challenge could be a long shot, but a top-four finish and a victory in a cup competition would certainly push this club forward. 

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