Tottenham Hotspur opened the 2020/21 Premier League campaign with a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to a rejuvenated Everton outfit on Sunday afternoon. The North Londoners weren’t particularly bad against the Merseysiders, but they were far from the level they are expected to reach this season.
This season, Tottenham are supposed to genuinely finish in the top four, especially because they have the “special one”, Jose Mourinho, at their decorated head coach.
On Sunday, Spurs took only nine goal attempts, five of which were on target. Everton’s Jordan Pickford was called into action a couple of times, of course, but that was pretty much it. Carlo Ancelotti’s side didn’t have to worry too much about anything else.
Jose Mourinho’s side looked rather lethargic in the final third. It was as if they didn’t have any more ideas. Individual brilliance aside, Tottenham couldn’t have done much differently. And that should be a genuine cause for concern for Spurs.
Jose Mourinho’s second season madness
The 2020/21 campaign marks Jose Mourinho’s second season at Tottenham. And if the history book is anything to go by, this is where the magic happens for the Portuguese’s sides. The veteran has always been a little slow to his stride in the first season but has never failed to turn it around in the second campaign.
Barring the second-place finish at Manchester United in 2017/18, Jose Mourinho has won a title at all of his previous clubs. He did it with Porto in 2003, he did it with Real Madrid in 2012, he did it with Inter Milan in 2010, and he did it twice with Tottenham’s London rivals, Chelsea in 2006 and 2015.
He just seems to find his mojo in the second season, and Tottenham would be hoping for the same after last season’s disappointing sixth-place finish.
At their core, Tottenham are pretty much the side they were last season. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-min are still the leaders of the pack, and the usual demons are still very much alive. There’s no hiding the fact — Mourinho’s tactics need a facelift, especially when the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool are going all out to regain or retain the title.
Jose Mourinho’s second-season heroics usually coincides with team-building exercises and successful transfer windows. The clubs he led to the title usually improved their roster leading up to the second season, which allowed Mourinho to mould the teams as he saw fit.
With Tottenham, Mourinho didn’t have the same luxury. For starters, Tottenham have never been able to keep up with the hard hitters of Europe. And now, with the coronavirus still at large, the Londoners haven’t quite managed to get their financials in order to help Mourinho out.
Tactically, too, Mourinho seems to be lost in the previous era — the era that paid heed to rigid systems and discipline. Today’s football isn’t just about having the right players and the right formation, it’s about dynamism, changing on the fly.
The Lilywhites, of course, have plenty of talented individuals at their disposal, but Jose Mourinho is yet to figure out a system that brings the best out of his prized assets.
Kane, Alli, Son, Alderweirald, Lloris, and every Tottenham player seems to be operating a couple of notches below their ceiling. And as their coach, it’s up to Mourinho to find the winning formula.
We’ve only witnessed one game of the new campaign, and Tottenham should know that they have work to do. The alarm bells haven’t rung, and there’s certainly no need to panic.
However, if Mourinho wishes to keep his impressive streak going, he must figure out his team’s ‘X factor.’ He must show them that it’s really possible to push for the gold. At the moment, Liverpool and Manchester City are well ahead of the curve.
However, it would be foolish to count out Jose Mourinho pragmatism and desire. It’d be foolish to overlook Mourinho’s second-season miracles.