“Today, does [Olivier] Giroud or Tammy Abraham play? If Abraham plays and Chelsea doesn’t win, people can go in the direction of the young players, they need time, we are not going to play to win the Premier League.”
Jose Mourinho said this before Chelsea’s opening fixture at Old Trafford. The suggestion being that the choice of Abraham would be purely a contingency plan to gain favour with the media in the case of a defeat.
The possibility that Abraham could be better than Giroud was not countenanced, neither was the benefits of developing the 22-year-old forward with incredible physical talent.
Nah, play the 33-year-old big man up top who can’t run because I know what I’m going to get while the young player might let me down.
This is not an attempt to bash Tottenham’s new manager in hindsight because Abraham looks to be a player of serious promise, I didn’t see Tammy being this effective either. However, any claims that Mourinho has changed his philosophy or turned over a new leaf should be taken with a dollop of salt.
To me, this is one of stranger managerial appointments I can remember. Firstly, the idea that Mourinho was third choice for Tottenham behind Julian Nagelsmann and Brendan Rodgers as reports by journalists like Miguel Delaney have indicated.
Rodgers and Nagelsmann are new-age progressive attacking coaches and it could not be said that Jose falls into that category. His Manchester United team had some of the lowest running stats in the Premier League and played very rudimentary football for the most part, relying often on Ashley Young hopefully sling-shotting the ball into the box.
Yes, there were mitigating circumstances at United and he’s not the only manager to be let down by Ed Woodward, but he United left in dire shape just like Chelsea before them.
The justification for appointing him at Tottenham as it was at United was that he is a winner. This ignores the continual downward trend of his career starting of Real Madrid. He did win a low-quality Premier League title at Chelsea, but they were also knocked out and out-passed in the Champions League at home by a 10-man PSG side.
It was that defeat to PSG that it really hit home to me that his conservative approach was out of touch with a sport trending toward highly co-ordinated pressing and passing moves.
He left Chelsea in a wreckage the subsequent season having completely alienated a high-quality group of players, most notably Eden Hazard. He also had no time for either of Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah.
Having struck out on his primary candidates, it feels to me that Daniel Levy settled for a high-profile name who might be a short term fix and help promote their Amazon documentary.
It’s very hard to envisage a marriage between two egos like Levy and Mourinho ending in anything but many tears. It’s just a question of how long before it all blows up after Mourinho loses patience with Levy’s painstaking deal-making.
Having said all of that, Mourinho does inherit a talented squad who has been underperforming this season which is the ideal situation for any manager to step into. Mauricio Pochettino seemed to have fallen out of love with this group of players and his relationship with Levy had clearly disintegrated after the Tottenham chairman wouldn’t implement a necessary squad overhaul.
So, I would expect some short-term improvement for Tottenham and the betting markets clearly agree, with their match odds price shortening from 10/11 to 8/11 after Jose’s arrival.
This does seem like a short price for a team that yet to win an away game all season, but it’s hard to have much confidence in West Ham to oppose them. Manuel Pellegrini’s team are winless in their last 7 games with five losses, including a 4-0 loss to Oxford in the League cup and a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Burnley last time out at Turf Moor.
Losing last season’s Hammer of the Year Lukasz Fabianski has been a significant factor in West Ham’s downward trend with his replacement Roberto Jimenez producing some of the more comical goalkeeping performances seen in a few years. With Fabianski still sidelined until 2020, West Ham may have to stick to with Jimenez until the beginning of the January transfer window.
Despite West Ham’s struggles, every team has their price and I feel Spurs have gotten short enough to oppose. It may take a couple of weeks before any Mourinho impact is felt and Evens on West Ham or Draw Double Chance gets a vote from me.
Dele Alli is a player I could see benefitting most from Mourinho’s appointment and I can see him playing closer to goal than under Pochettino with less creative responsibility.
He scored in Tottenham’s last away game in the Premier League and 5/2 on him to score anytime looks worth a bet.
* All odds correct at time of posting.