With a 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United on April 11th, Tottenham Hotspur reached the unwanted milestone of 10 Premier League losses this season. Despite a 2-2 draw with Everton five days later, it felt like the defeat to his former club sealed José Mourinho’s fate. The Portuguese coach had reached the point of no return, and his dismissal does not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has watched Spurs this season.
The reality is that the club have been on a slippery slope since the beginning of last season, and under Mourinho they were showing no signs of regaining their footing. As far as their chances of qualifying for the Champions League are concerned, the English Premier League betting odds are not in their favour with just a handful of games remaining. The thinking among the club’s hierarchy is clearly to try and create a bit of a bounce following Mourinho’s departure, with popular former player Ryan Mason put in charge of training for the time being.
It’s been a strange couple of days in the football world, with the news that six Premier League clubs, Tottenham among them, had taken the decision to form a breakaway European Super League in place of the Champions League. The revelation was understandably met with extreme opposition by fans of all six clubs, and with Mourinho’s sacking coming just a day after, it’s a bizarre time to be a Spurs fan. A campaign which has so often been miserable has taken a strange, dark turn.
It had all started so promisingly this season, and that’s why the team’s decline since December has been so hard to take for Tottenham’s supporters. Before their match against Liverpool on December 16th, Spurs were top of the Premier League table, and beating the Reds would have given them breathing space. However, a late Roberto Firmino winner consigned Tottenham to defeat and since then it has been all downhill for the north London outfit.
It had been difficult to pinpoint the reasons for their poor form, but it became clearer and clearer that this was not a happy squad. When there is a lack of togetherness in the dressing room, it’s hard to fight for results – you only need to look at Spurs’ capitulation in the Europa League to see that the required levels of commitment just weren’t there. The common denominator was Mourinho, and so the 58-year-old is left to reflect on another failure at a major club.
Of course, the players must take part of the blame, as performances simply haven’t been good enough, but in the end, it is a manager’s job to create a harmonious, happy, and hard-working squad of players, and too often Tottenham have been found wanting when push comes to shove in matches this season.
Ultimately, the buck always stops with the man in charge, and so Mourinho heads for the exit doors just 17 months after taking charge. When a team starts to slide under Mourinho, there is usually only one outcome. The debate over whether or not the Portuguese coach still has the tactical acumen to compete at the highest level of football will go on and on. But while he walks away, Tottenham are left to count the cost of the risky decision to appoint him in the first place.