Mourinho’s charm offensive at Spurs

0
139

Dele Alli continued his impressive revitalisation under Jose Mourinho as he scored twice in Tottenham’s 3-2 win over Bournemouth on Saturday.

Alli, whose poor form and injuries over the last few months had seen him dropped from the England squad, has rediscovered his star quality since Mourinho arrived at the club and bagged a goal in each half.

His brace made it three in three games, as well as two assists, and he has been the figurehead of a Spurs resurgence under Mourinho.

Moussa Sissoko also scored his first goal in over two years as Tottenham won their third successive game under the Portuguese, who has brought the feelgood factor back.

But how has he done it?

The flying start

Sounds obvious but there is nothing better than some early triumphs to damp down the doubters, win over the dressing room and set the stands buzzing. Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Bournemouth meant Jose Mourinho had overseen three victories within 10 days of taking over. “I think the results changed a lot and also the positive vibe,” said Heung-min Son, provider of two of the goals that sank Bournemouth. “The atmosphere’s changed a lot.”

And with 10 goals to show from three richly entertaining, topsy-turvy matches, this is far from the stereotypical Mourinho grind and more in keeping with Spurs’ entertaining traditions.

English Premier League

Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Liverpool 14 13 1 0 20 40
2 Leicester City 14 10 2 2 24 32
3 Manchester City 14 9 2 3 23 29
4 Chelsea 14 8 2 4 8 26
5 Tottenham Hotspur 14 5 5 4 3 20
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 4 8 2 2 20
7 Sheffield United 14 4 7 3 4 19
8 Arsenal 14 4 7 3 -1 19
9 Manchester United 14 4 6 4 4 18
10 Burnley 14 5 3 6 0 18
11 Crystal Palace 14 5 3 6 -5 18
12 Bournemouth 14 4 4 6 -2 16
13 West Ham United 14 4 4 6 -6 16
14 Newcastle United 14 4 4 6 -9 16
15 Aston Villa 14 4 3 7 -1 15
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 14 4 3 7 -5 15
17 Everton 14 4 2 8 -8 14
18 Southampton 14 3 3 8 -17 12
19 Norwich City 14 3 2 9 -15 11
20 Watford 14 1 5 8 -19 8

Tactical tweaks

It is goodbye to former manager Mauricio Pochettino’s 4-3-3-based high-press possession play, with Mourinho switching things to his more customary 4-2-3-1, though a midfield diamond shone through in the later stages on Saturday.

Spurs sit rather deeper, concentrate on winning the second ball and launch rapid counter-strikes.

Note, too, the occasional deployment of the long-ball, employed to devastating effect by Toby Alderweireld, whose two quarter-back style pinpoint passes led to both Dele Alli’s goals.

Mourinho’s instructions are clear and the players are following them. “The players know when we have to go forwards, when we have to keep the ball,” says Son. “This has changed a little bit, the confidence has changed a lot. This is the main thing. The lads play with the passion and positive energy.”

Getting players onside

No question that Spurs players have quickly bought into the Mourinho gameplan, Dele being the shining example. Now playing just behind Harry Kane, a role to which he is far more suited according to Mourinho, he looks a player reborn. Good news for Spurs, and England.

Kane was not a headline act on Saturday but worked relentlessly for the team and has clearly appreciated several one-to-one chats with Mourinho, who has made it clear he sees the striker as a team leader.

Elsewhere, Eric Dier has found a more natural role in holding midfield and full-back Serge Aurier, who has struggled to make an impact since arriving in 2017, suddenly looks full of confidence and is forming a powerful right-sided partnership with Moussa Sissoko, the acrobatic scorer of Spurs’ third goal on Saturday.

The Mourinho effect is tangible. “Very kind, smiling, he’s making jokes with the players, the players are smiling a lot. The gaffer is doing a great job and we are really happy to have him,” Son says.

Spurs’ players have quickly bought into the Jose Mourinho gameplan CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Charm offensive

Mourinho said he spent his 11 months out of management reassessing himself and has admitted making mistakes. So no sign of the old grump whose reign ended up curdling so badly at Manchester United.

Aware that many at Tottenham were sore over the departure of Pochettino, Mourinho went to great lengths to speak warmly and appreciatively about his predecessor, the Tottenham club and its fantastic new stadium.

Publicly bigging up the likes of Dele plays well in the dressing room, and hugging 15-year-old ballboy Callum Hynes for quickly returning the ball to play to enable Spurs to level against Olympiakos in midweek was a PR masterstroke.

@btsportfootball

Goal – KANE
Assist – BALL BOY

Quick thinking helped to get Spurs level against Olympiacos ?

???

1,903 people are talking about this
Jose Mourinho thanks ballboy Callum Hynes for helping set up a Tottenham goal

But there is still work to do

Spurs have seen off West Ham, Olympiakos and Bournemouth in turn but suffered major scares in each game, with the defence looking particularly erratic at times. Bournemouth came desperately close to completing a three-goal comeback during a frantic finish to a match that Spurs should have game-managed to a quiet conclusion.

With due respect to their first three opponents, sterner tests lie in wait for Spurs this month, starting with Wednesday’s trip to Mourinho’s old stamping ground at Manchester United.

Wolves and Chelsea also lie in wait before Christmas, although the Champions League trip to Bayern is less pressing now that qualification for the knock-out stages is already assured.

Mourinho’s main concern will be to drill a defence that is shipping two goals per game under his charge. Not a statistic the Portuguese manager is in the habit of seeing, and certainly one he knows needs changing in the weeks ahead as he shapes a side to contend for a top four Premier League placing, an extended run in the Champions League and a tilt at the FA Cup.