Jose Mourinho safe at Tottenham despite poor form as Daniel Levy “hypnotised”
Jose Mourinho was brought in to win trophies and deliver Champions League football for Tottenham.
The Special One failed on both fronts in his first season and his second year in charge is in serious danger of going the same way.
Tottenham are out of the FA Cup, four points off top four and in bad form while relying on the Europa League and their place in the Carabao Cup final as the remaining chances of silverware.
But that is set against the backdrop of growing dissent among Tottenham supporters fed-up of the style of football and the only salvation for Mourinho is that there are no fans allowed in White Hart Lane otherwise it might have turned toxic by now.
There are obvious concerns among the hierarchy especially after three straight Premier League defeats – their worst run of results in nine years – and the pressure would have seemed intolerable had they not beaten West Brom on Sunday.
But defeat at Everton in the FA Cup has put the spotlight back on a manager going through a turbulent season of highs and lows – but the lows are definitely outweighing the highs right now.
With Mourinho, there is so often a trade off. Mourinho has delivered trophies at every club he has managed but his pragmatic, safety first football is hardly in the best traditions of Tottenham whose proud motto is “To Dare Is To Do.”
The fans might stomach the football if they are getting results. This club is built on flair, glory and style.
There is also ways a sideshow with Mourinho. Some senior players are having doubts about Mourinho’s man management while he has always been a difficult man to get along with. Tottenham is proving to be no exception.
Surely Mourinho will get this season no matter what happens next, although it is a big few weeks ahead, starting with a trip to Manchester City on Saturday, followed by crunch Europa League ties with Wolfsberg with a tricky game at West Ham sandwiched in between.
That is a big run of games, arguably decisive, but while some believe bad results could spell danger there is still a well sourced belief that chairman Daniel Levy is “hypnotised” by Mourinho and his superstar status. There is no chance of change and they remain 100 per cent supportive.
Mourinho clearly has his favourites and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has been superb for him this season, looking like a shrewd signing at £15m while Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are both enjoying brilliant seasons.
However, Mourinho has raised eyebrows with the treatment of not just Gareth Bale but Dele Alli, a gifted and decisive player who has been frozen out and hammered in public before finally coming back as a substitute at Everton.
Other players are also feeling the heat. Eric Dier is struggling for confidence as team mates believe Mourinho has been harsh on him, leaving him struggling for belief.
Similarly, Mourinho’s treatment of Harry Winks is also baffling as he is an England international, a midfielder full of creativity who was a huge influence under Mauricio Pochettino but has been sidelined this season despite playing regularly for his country. They miss his creativity.
There was a blazing row between Mourinho and Serge Aurier at half time in the Liverpool game which ended with the right back storming out of the ground after being substituted.
Many players thought the row was so explosive, so big, that would be the end of Aurier under Mourinho. One source suggested the fact that Mourinho has forgiven and brought Aurier back so quickly – he was left out for just one game – shows how “desperate” he has become.
But maybe that is because Mourinho has been brutal with Matt Doherty, a summer signing who has struggled to nail down a place but is also struggling for confidence under the manager.
There is a sense of negativity among some players who feel the focus is on opposition tactics, defending and not enough on their own strengths.
Clearly, Mourinho will feel this season has much yet to offer. He has given Alli a second chance, Tanguy Ndombele is now an automatic starter having had fall-outs last season. It is down to the players as well as him. He wants Bale to prove himself.
But the real proof will come at the end of the season and whether Mourinho, amid the doubts and concerns, can deliver on his side of the bargain.
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