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Jose Mourinho and his plans for Tottenham Hotspur's new winning culture

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:44 am
by admin
It was something Mauricio Pochettino was instilling at Tottenham Hotspur, but Jose Mourinho clearly has ambitions to bring a winning mentality to the club sooner rather than later.

Spurs have long been the nearly club and while Pochettino was ultimately unable to change that, there was every indication that he was pushing them towards it in the long term, despite those hiccups and 'circumstances' along the way.

Now the Argentine has gone and in his place is a man who does not want to wait patiently for that transformation. For Jose Mourinho, there is no time like the present.

A winning mentality is one with which the team goes into matches not with arrogance nor complacency, but with a belief and understanding that they will ultimately find a way through, however hard they find the challenge in front of them.

For all of Pochettino's strengths and enormous strides made at Spurs, he was always battling against one barrier.

It was that he, like his team, had not won that first piece of major silverware and until that happened there would always be doubts among certain sections of the fans, the media and perhaps even some of his players that it would happen.

Mourinho arrives with that glint in his eye. Like those cartoon characters who have dollar signs in their eyes, the new Spurs boss instead has trophies.

He's got 25 major ones to his name and while the Tottenham players adored Pochettino like a father, they will believe every single thing his Portuguese successor comes out with each day simply because he's got the evidence to back up his words.

The Burnley match aside, the football is still not there yet. The players are not pressing as a pack yet and too many long balls are being lumped up, at the best to Harry Kane, or at the worst straight back to the opposition.

However, that belief in the direction the club is heading is growing again and that comes with four wins from Mourinho's first five Premier League games at the helm.

This latest one, away at a Wolves team who sat above them in the table before kick-off and had been unbeaten in their previous 11 matches, was massive.

Spurs missed chances to add to Lucas Moura's early rocket of a goal, not least when Eric Dier hit the post from eight yards.

On the whole though they found themselves under constant pressure from Wolves, buoyed by a noisy crowd. What will please Mourinho more than anything is that his previously creaky defence stood firm when it mattered.

Adama Traore's own powerful effort found a way through from distance but for all of Wolves' possession, corners and free-kicks, they only managed a couple of shots on target and Paulo Gazzaniga dealt with those very well.

This was a much tighter defence, up against pace on both wings and guile through the middle, and all four of the centre-backs handled what came their way, with Dier and Moussa Sissoko adding extra legs in front of them.

It was perhaps fitting that Jan Vertonghen would pop up with the winner. He had to play in his less favoured left-back role once again, trying to deal with the lightning fast surges of Traore with a mandate to not advance into the Wolves half unless absolutely necessary.

Yet there was the Belgian at the death, sealing the smash and grab victory with a pinpoint header into the bottom left corner. For all the defending and marking he'd had to do, not one of the Wolves players picked him up when it was their turn.

New managers often try to fix the defence first and then the attack. Mourinho did the opposite, hoping Spurs' firepower would propel them forward in his early manic weeks.

The signs that the defensive process is now starting to click will be ominous for others in the Premier League.

Pochettino's Spurs were always about the collective. Mourinho's teams are built on the same philosophy - all the best teams are - so for him it has been about making tweaks to rediscover that feeling.

"The reality is that a winning team starts with the mentality," he said.

"The tactical side of it is very important, the quality of the players is also very important but the concept of a team is the base for a team that is capable of winning. To win this match, this match is a perfect example of a match that only a team can win.

"We won it as a team because the game was really difficult for us. I don't have stats in here but they were super dominant in corners and lateral free-kicks and then we had a couple of corners and in one of them we win the game. Why? Because we coped so well with our set pieces.

"It was something that a couple of weeks ago we were struggling, conceding goals every game in set pieces. We managed to come here and be very dominating in that area of the game too."

Mourinho's old club Chelsea and one of his favourite former players Frank Lampard are growing anxious. They can see the Portuguese coming up quickly in the rear view mirror.

While the new Spurs boss has overseen four wins from his first five Premier League games, Lampard's team have lost four of those five. It can't simply be coincidence, the pressure is on and that pressure is Mourinho.

That 12-point gap between the two sides is now just three and of course fate has thrown the two teams together next weekend at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The winner will spend Christmas Day in the top four.

There is still much for Mourinho to do at Tottenham and the 'puzzle' as he calls it does not fit properly at all yet, but there's no denying that he's got the players believing they can win again.

He's achieved plenty within three busy weeks where the new head coach is yet to enjoy a full week to work with his players on a single game, or dig deep into the more ingrained aspects he wants to fix.

This coming week will allow him that opportunity for the first time and what he's done so far promises there is plenty more to come. His old team know better than anyone what comes next.