Why Spurs Should Give Mourinho Time: A United Fan’s Perspective
“I consider one of the best jobs of my career to finish second with Manchester United in the Premier League.”
Oh, how we laughed. The above words were uttered not long after Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho in December of 2018. It wasn’t the first time Mourinho had made the claim. In fact, he said it often when he faced the media as United boss. But the words above where spoken when United had “Ole at the wheel”, if you remember. Solskjaer had revitalised United, was getting the best out of Paul Pogba and even put Paris Saint Germain to the sword.
As most football fans were aware, that was a short honeymoon. And, as United limped to the end of the 2018/19 season, fans laughed a little less heartily at Mourinho’s claims. They had not completely forgiven Mourinho – many still haven’t – but there was beginning to be a realisation that there was something deeper than a manager “losing his way” at United.
In the media, fans of a particular club are often portrayed as having a single consciousness, a hive mind when it comes to thinking one way or another. We know this not true. If you know more about Tottenham and football in general than the average fan, then you’ll have a different way of thinking. There is no consensus for Mourinho’s time at United, and we may never get one.
United fans believed – for a while
But some “thinking” fans at United wouldn’t lightly toss aside Mourinho’s achievements at Old Trafford. A Europa League Final victory over Ajax, and a convincing one at that, did not offer a platform for greater success that United fans craved. But that, coupled with an EFL Cup win in the same season underlined Mourinho’s claims of being a winner. He won trophies at United. Full stop.
But it’s that second place claim that United fans chew upon over the morning coffee and breakfast cereal. If United were to finish second, say, in the 2020/21 season, Solskjaer would be feted across the red-half of the city (and wherever else you find United fans across the globe). But here’s the thing: That won’t happen next season. United fans would gleefully accept fourth spot and a return to the Champions League. Expectations have changed.
Spurs should give Mourinho time
Is there a lesson to pass on to Spurs fans? Perhaps. We cannot say for sure whether Mourinho has lost it tactically, as some supporters contend. One of the bigger lamentations from fans is that Mourinho did not instil the same kind of mentality in the dressing room. Remember Drogba, Terry and Lampard during Mourinho's first spell at Chelsea? They looked like they would happily murder for their boss, and he for them. We wanted that to be the case for players like Pogba, although it seems a bit foolish now.
Often overlooked, though, is Mourinho’s big game management. He still retained the ability to set teams up to frustrate and, ultimately, defeat superior opposition in games. And, as we are learning retrospectively, meeting superior opposition happened quite regularly during Mourinho’s United career.
The man deserves some time to get things right at Spurs. Mourinho – by all accounts – had a terrible relationship with the United board, especially towards the end of his tenure. Money was spent, but not always with his blessing. The purse-strings at Spurs might be a little tighter than they were at United, but if there is a brain-trust between Daniel Levy and Mourinho, then the fruits of the labour could be sweeter. That will take time though, and we wonder if Mourinho will get it.
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