Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Jose Mourinho at Tottenham: Five things he must address

The new manager has some tough challenges after taking over from sacked Mauricio Pochettino

Jose Mourinho has replaced Mauricio Pochettino as manager of Tottenham Hotspur. EPA 
Jose Mourinho has replaced Mauricio Pochettino as manager of Tottenham Hotspur. EPA 

Jose Mourinho has a big job following Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham and turning around a season that seems to have floundered, despite them reaching the Champions League final only a few months ago.

Here are the immediate tasks he must address:

Turn the new White Hart Lane into a fortress

Tottenham’s splendid new home, opened earlier this year, is an architectural wonder. What it is yet to become is a place visitors fear to tread. Points have been dropped there against the likes of Watford and Newcastle United this season, while Bayern Munich scored seven times in one harrowing night. Mourinho’s greatest successes at Chelsea were founded on a formidable home record; he needs to cultivate something similar in North London.

Jose Mourinho will need Christian Eriksen firing on all cylinders. Reuters
Jose Mourinho will need Christian Eriksen firing on all cylinders. Reuters

Galvanise Christian Eriksen

Eriksen’s instinct is that he and Spurs are coming to the end of their relationship, and that interest in him from the sorts of clubs in mainland Europe who would bring him regular trophies is strong enough that a big, lucrative move in the summer is likely. That scenario caused a distance between the Dane and Pochettino and meant Spurs have not made the best use of his creative gifts this season. Even if it is only for six months, Mourinho needs to nurture the relationship.

Tighten up at the back

Spurs have kept a clean sheet just once in their 12 League games this season. They have conceded more than twice as many goals as Leicester City, the club currently occupying one of the places in the top four of the table that Spurs aspire to. Injury to first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is not helpful although the frailties are not in his deputy Paulo Gazzaniga but in the organisation of the back four, or five. Mourinho must apply his renowned expertise to them.

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris screams out in agony after injuring his arm against Brighton on Saturday. Getty
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris screams out in agony after injuring his arm against Brighton in October. Getty

Stimulate the kids

Tottenham’s squad is thinner than Mauricio Pochettino would have liked, but there are a clutch of up-and-coming players who, given encouragement, can take on major roles in a campaign that will prioritise Premier League points but will also have European involvement into the new year and, in the chase for that elusive trophy, the FA Cup. Mourinho might be just the guide 19-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, now coming back from injury, needs as he defines his best role; likewise Juan Foyth, the 21-year-old defender with great potential but some raw edges.

Tottenham's Ryan Sessegnon has only made one Premier League appearance since moving from Fulham in the summer. AP
Tottenham's Ryan Sessegnon has only made one Premier League appearance since moving from Fulham in the summer. AP

Win over the fans

Mourinho replaces a manager who was popular, admired and wore his heart on his sleeve often enough to generate a lasting warmth from Tottenham supporters. The new man is a former Chelsea boss, which is no advantage at all at Spurs, and a coach with a notoriety – not always deserved – for pragmatic football before flair. All of which presents the marriage of Mourinho and Glory-Glory Tottenham with challenges to test the Portuguese’s undoubted charisma. A derby win on Saturday at West Ham, and a bold approach to the trip to Manchester United early next month would break the ice.

Updated: November 20, 2019 01:03 PM

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