Few managers have had more success in world football than Mourinho in the 21st century. From Chelsea to Porto, he has won trophies at pretty much every club he has managed. The Portuguese boss looks prime for yet another run of success, this time at Tottenham. The running joke about the Spurs is that they can never get their hands on a trophy. Season after season, final after final, the North London giants miss out on the silverware. Just two years ago, Tottenham was in the Champions League Final with their best squad in years, led by Maurizio Pochettino. Not surprisingly, they lost to Liverpool 2-0.
Since that near-miss at glory, they’ve descended back into mediocrity, finishing sixth in the EPL table last season and forced to embarrassingly go through the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. Club chairman Daniel Levy fired Pochettino and hired Mourinho last November with the hopes of him turning Spurs around. Those hopes are slowly but surely coming to fruition.
Mourinho’s “Park the Bus” Methods Are Nothing New but This Year at Tottenham They Have Been More Pronounced Than Ever
Spurs’ two best players, ST Harry Kane and AM Son Heung-Min, are primarily goal-scorers. No one could have expected Tottenham to be the best counter-attacking team in the league considering their talent at the striker position. However, Mourinho has managed to re-tool the players on his squad and create a team that is defensive-minded but at the same time, deadly on the attack.
Kane, for example, has evolved into an elite distributor of the ball under Mourinho, something that he had previously struggled to do throughout his career. For all of last season, he had two assists.
This season, he leads the Premier League with 9. Son, too, has become a much different player this season. The South Korean forward has always been an elite off-ball mover and Mourinho has used Son’s pace to make him not just a goal-scoring threat, but also a defensive pest on the wings.
Mourinho’s Tactics Have a Lot to Do So With These Changes
He often decides to slide Son back from his normal striker role into an attacking midfield position. This allows him to make more direct runs and track-back when needed. In addition, Mourinho has brought in players that embody his own spirit of grit and intelligent play. MF Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and LB Sergio Reguilon fit perfectly in Mourinho’s defensive system with Hojbjerg arguably being the best two way player in Tottenham’s squad. The rest of the defense has also been superb.
Tottenham allows the fewest goals in the Premier League. Their expected goals allowed are also near the lowest in the league, just further proving their defensive prowess.
Mourinho has revolutionized Tottenham into a counter-attacking powerhouse with a defense strong enough to lead them to a league title.
Last Sunday, the Spurs were able to escape Stamford Bridge with a 0-0 draw against Chelsea despite getting outshot 13-5. In the second half, Mourinho was clearly playing for the draw. While this concession drew the ire of some neutral fans, the bottom line is that Spurs were able to go on the road and get a point from one of the best clubs in the Premier League. Any club would take that outcome, especially one that is battling Chelsea for the top spot in the league.
Yes, Mourinho’s style of play is boring, but it gets the job done.
Tottenham has only won one trophy in the past twenty years so I’m sure Spurs fans will take one any way they can get it.
Featured Image: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Getty