From steering Tottenham Hotspurs to UEFA Champions runners-up in 2019 to being among the Top Four consistently for years, this is indeed a steep fall for Mauricio Pochettino. The Spurs coach was unceremoniously sacked on Tuesday last after being in charge of the North London for five years. The Lilywhites have possibly had the worst showing in decades, languishing currently in the 10th spot of the Premier League – a situation they are completely unfamiliar with. To add salt to their wounds, they suffered one of the most humiliating defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in a Champions League Group fixture when they were thrashed 2-7 home at the Tottenham stadium a couple of months ago. Add to is a 0-3 loss in a Premier League outing with unfancied Brighton in October, not to mention a defeat to Newcastle United and draws played out against relegation candidates like Everton and Watford. This transpired with the calibre of players like England’s top striker Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min the “Asian Player of the Year” in their ranks.
Pochettino was appointed in May 2014 and led the club to the Champions League final last season, where they lost to Liverpool in Madrid. He also had the difficult task of managing home games at Wembley for 18 months while the construction of the club’s new ground was on and came up with flying colours. This led to his rumoured moves to Real Madrid and Manchester United. “We were extremely reluctant to make this change. It is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” said Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. Pochettino’s assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel d’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez have also left the club. Despite this, Tottenham players have fond memories of the 47-yesr old Argentine. This tweet from club ace Harry Kane sums it up “Gaffer. I’ll be forever thankful to you for helping me achieve my dreams. We’ve had some amazing moments in the last five and a half years that I will never forget. You were my manager but my friend as well and I thank you for that relationship. Good luck with your next chapter!”
The Spurs management have lost no time, though, in appointing Jose Mourinho as the replacement for Pochettino. The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss has signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season with Spurs. “The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” said Mourinho. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.” he added. The 56-year old Portuguese will draw a remuneration of £8m a year after tax.
Mourinho’s backroom team will comprise of Lille coaches Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos. They will be joined by tactical analyst Giovanni Cerra and fitness coach Carlos Lalin, both of whom have worked under Mourinho at United in the past.
The Portuguese coach’s first test with his new club went well as Spurs registered their first win on the road since January – a 2-3 win over a beleaguered West Ham United away at London stadium, Stratford. In the build-up to the game, Mourinho indicated there would be no major changes to a side that have been used to challenging for honours, even if they have never actually won any. He adapted a more or less similar formation (4-2-3-1) to one used by ousted boss Pochettino on Saturday and found success. Usual suspects Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane found the back of the Hammers net with Lucas Moura chipping in with the third. The North London outfit were not overwhelmingly dominant against a West Ham side headed towards relegation and came close to giving the match away when the opposition mounted serious pressure towards the end.
Mourinho’s men have a busy week ahead as they host Greek outfit Olympiacos on Tuesday for a UEFA Champions League fixture followed by a Premier League outing at home against Bouremouth on the 30th.