Is “The New Mourinho” The Real Deal?

Published on: 29 November 2019
Is “The New Mourinho” The Real Deal?
Jose Mourinho is the new coach of Tottenham

The Premier League has missed Jose Mourinho. No matter how acrimoniously things may have come to an end in his last two jobs - Chelsea and Manchester United respectively - he's always brought a media circus with him everywhere he's been. The Portuguese manager always has the right quote to make for a newspaper headline, and that's why the press has always loved him.

Having Mourinho back in the cut and thrust of management at Tottenham Hotspur is good for the profile of the league, and also good for Tottenham Hotspur. There’s next to no chance that Spurs would have been able to attract a manager of Mourinho’s caliber ten years ago, when they were fighting to avoid relegation, and the idea of appearing in a Champions League final was laughable.

The fact that they’re where they are now, competing in the world’s most prestigious club competition and disappointed with a mid-table Premier League position - is largely down to the work that former coach Mauricio Pochettino has put in over his years at the club.

Unwittingly, he was laying the groundwork for a bigger-name manager to come and fill his shoes the first time he appeared to be struggling in the job.

These are early days, but it seems that the Jose Mourinho that Spurs and their fans have at the helm is very different from the Jose Mourinho that left Manchester United under a cloud a little under a year ago. That Mourinho was angry, unkempt, and alienated from his players.

He was surly in interviews, and could hardly disguise his contempt for some of his squad when he spoke about them. Paul Pogba, in particular, came in for exceptionally harsh treatment from the manager.

Contrast those last few months of Mourinho’s United reign to the happy, smiling manager we’ve seen thus far at Tottenham. After his side’s 4-2 victory over Olympiakos, which guaranteed their qualification for the knockout rounds of the Champions League, he spoke of wanting to celebrate with the team’s ballboy.

He’s described the stadium he now calls home ‘the best in the world,’ and spoken in glowing terms about the training facilities he runs his coaching sessions in. Every statement he makes is positive. The aura he gives off - deliberately, it would seem - is one of a changed man.

Jose Mourinho has been laughing since he joined Tottenham
Jose Mourinho has been laughing since he joined Tottenham
Perhaps the most striking difference from his usual approach when walking into a job is that he's indicated that he doesn't feel the need to sign any new players to improve the team. He's even ruled out the possibility of bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer, which would be a huge coup for Spurs. Ibrahimovic is a legendary striker within the game - the kind of player who inspired 'Striker Goes Wild' online slots on website such as Dove Casino, but Ibrahimovic is better than even that.

Playing online slots is a gamble. Signing Ibrahimovic never has been. He's as close to a guarantee of goals as it's possible to find in world football, but Mourinho doesn't feel like he needs him. He feels like he's already won an online slots jackpot of his own because he's got Harry Kane, and in his own words, Kane is 'the best striker in England.'

Mourinho has spent big money everywhere he's been, to the point where it's almost expected of him. Many people suspected that his relationship with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was doomed to be a difficult one because the latter is notoriously tight with the purse strings when it comes to transfers. As it turns out, Mourinho wants nothing from him at all.

This new, light-hearted Mourinho has been interesting to watch. He seems to genuinely enjoy being back in football management, and promises that he's learned from the mistakes he's made in the past. By saying that he believes he can achieve success with the squad that Spurs already have - a squad which has struggled so far this season- he's set a barometer by which he can be measured, and he appears to be happy with that.

But will it last? As much as Mourinho has always been admired for his successes and loved for his eccentricities, he's also (rightly) been criticized for his habit of blowing up when things don't go his way. Former Chelsea physio Eva Carneiro can attest to that, as can Arsene Wenger, who was on the receiving end of some of Mourinho's most barbed comments for years.

Given the amount of time that Mourinho has had to reflect on his past actions, it's not impossible to imagine that he has a new outlook on life. He may also have a new outlook on football.

Jose Mourinho with Tottenham players
Jose Mourinho with Tottenham players
Having been criticized in the past for disrupting the culture of a club on his way in and damaging it on his way out through signing and then discarding players, he may intentionally be trying to prove that he's good enough to take an existing squad and turn them into winners, without changing anything else about the fabric of the team.

But can it last? Will this smiling, happy-go-lucky Jose Mourinho still be there at the end of his new side's first loss? Will he be able to avoid falling back on old habits when times are harder than they are right now?

There's no way of knowing for sure until it happens - and it may not happen for a while yet. He's won his first two games in hand, and it's unlikely that Bournemouth will pose a serious threat to him in his third. The more games he wins, and the more momentum that comes from those wins, the happier he's likely to become in the short term.

That means we should all expect to see the smiles continue for a while longer yet. Is this a 'new Mourinho,' though,  or is it just a man trying to break from his past and ingratiate himself with a fandom that didn't necessarily want him in charge of their club in the first place? We'll know by the end of May.

As is always the case with Mourinho, the spectacle that goes on between now and then should be well worth watching.

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