Not since he his first arrival at Chelsea in the summer of 2004 have I had this feeling that Jose Mourinho is going to be hugely successful at a new club.
I have always believed that Mourinho’s last season at Real Madrid – the 2012/13 season – demystified him. The back chats and the so open falling out with his players were not associated with him until then.
This was shocking considering how much the players he left behind at Chelsea and Inter, players like John Terry, Frank Lampard Didier Drogba, Marco Materrazzi, Lucio, Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o and a few more looked and spoke like they could run through brick walls for him.
In that final season at The Bernabue it looked and sounded like the players could not wait to see the back of him. It had been a turbulent, fractious and energy/soul sapping previous two seasons in Spain as Mourinho tried every trick in the book to stop Pep Guardiola’s rampant Barcelona.
To be fair to Mourinho, it was the only way he felt he could get under the skin of the Catalans who had captured the hearts and souls of football fans all around the world with a brand of football that would still be talked about for years. He did win a LaLiga title and a Copa del Rey but it exhausted all involved for those three seasons.
He eventually returned to Chelsea and England where the press lap up those antics that their peers in Spain and Italy had very little time for. A title and a spectacular collapse followed and he was sacked.
When Mourinho pitched up at Man United in the summer of 2016 I was dubious of his chances of delivering a title because I did not think he had changed enough to manage at United. Plus, I felt that United were making a huge mistake hiring a man who had just bombed at Chelsea a few months earlier – Ed Woodward the United head honcho had panicked because a certain Guardiola was arriving at Man City. All history now. Eleven months ago, Jose Mourinho was sacked.
Daniel Levy has taken a punt in recruiting Mourinho on the next stage of his Tottenham Hotspurs project, this is not a decision a man of Levy’s stature would have taken lightly. He would have seen, heard and spoken with a lot of people at Madrid, Chelsea and United before making this decision.
On paper and historically, this is Jose Mourinho’s lowest job since before he joined Porto in Portugal but I believe so strongly that this job presents him with the biggest chance of recreating the successful Mourinho of 2004 to 2012. That was the period when he earned that so often repeated “Serial Winner” title.
In the last five years though, Spurs (with Mauricio Pochettino’s hardwork) have managed to drag themselves up past the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United in terms of league matches won and positions finished. So, this is as big a job as Mourinho could possibly hope for.
When he was announced I was immediately sceptical but having given it deep thoughts and evaluating what is before him at Spurs I am convinced that Mourinho and Spurs could be hugely successful in these next three seasons.
Mourinho was away for nearly a year from the job. He has done proper evaluation and as he has said in his first Spurs press conference “I have learnt from my previous mistakes and I will not be repeating them. I will make new mistakes but not repeat my previous mistakes”.
Proof of that is that he is arriving at Spurs with a new backroom staff. The great Sir Alex always used to refresh his assistants because “It is always important in this job to have fresh ideas and people to tell you new things”.
Spurs have, at the moment, the crop of players at the right ages that Mourinho loves working with and are at a place mentally when he can work his magic on them to deliver trophies. Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Heung Min Son, Harry Kane and the rest of this really talented footballers at Spurs might be popular and highly rated in the Premier League but they have not won a tin pot.
They now have a man who will drill and drive them into wanting to win something. It can easily be a match made in heaven should these players be prepared to buy into his ideas. After a particularly awful FA Cup final at Wembley in 2007 where Chelsea had denied Manchester United what would have been a shock League and FA Cup Double, Mourinho explained that he had asked his players “do you want to celebrate during the match or do you want to celebrate after the match?”
Which explains why he set out a team that had John Obi Mikel and Claude Makalele starting so as to disrupt any flow and rhythm from United through the midfield. The players celebrated after the match.
I see him with the same type of message to these Spurs players who one believes should be desperate to win silverware. If they buy into it – as they really should – then Spurs’ perennial positioning as bridesmaids are about to come to an end.
Strip away the drama of his press conferences and interviews, Jose Mourinho is a proper football man. He lives and breathes the sport and loves his job. He hates losing and is dedicated to honing his craft continuously. His pride might have been dented a bit, but he is back to doing what he really loves doing.
Those who have followed the man over the last six seasons can be forgiven for thinking – after that his maiden press conference – that they have heard him say all these things only for there to be the fights, leaks and spectacular fall out at the end.
This will be different. Levy and Mourinho need each other so they will respect each other and will do their very best to make this work.
Tottenham Hotspurs, Premier League Champions of 2022 season, after which Jose Mourinho can then retire from Club football to go manage his beloved Portugal.