Jose Mourinho promised us he’d become ‘the humble one’ when he took over at Tottenham… but he’s moaned about everything from VAR and his striker shortage to FA Cup ‘beach balls’ and time-wasting ballboys as Spurs’ season has quickly fallen apart
- Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham were dumped out of the FA Cup by Norwich
- It’s the latest setback in a season that now threatens to completely unravel
- Mourinho claimed he was ‘humble’ and ‘happy’ when he took over in November
- But his usual moans and groans quickly emerged on a number of subjects
- Spurs’ lack of firepower and VAR have been more predictable Mourinho rants
- But he’s also had a pop at light footballs, ballboys and the winter break
Jose Mourinho gave the impression of being a changed man when he strolled into the Tottenham Hotspur job back in November.
‘The Special One’ had apparently become ‘The Humble One’ or perhaps even ‘The Happy One’ after admitting he’d been smiling for two days after being appointed as successor to Mauricio Pochettino.
Mourinho claimed he was ‘stronger from an emotional point of view’ and more ‘relaxed and motivated’ during his unveiling press conference after almost a year away from the dug-out.
Jose Mourinho gave the impression he was a changed character when unveiled as Spurs boss
But that illusion has quickly been shattered as Tottenham’s season has fallen apart
‘I am always humble, in my way. The problem is you [the media] didn’t understand that,’ was the line that grabbed the headlines that afternoon.
But was anyone really fooled? A few months on and with Tottenham’s season quickly unravelling, Mourinho has reverted to type.
Wednesday night’s FA Cup exit to Norwich City on penalties was the latest setback in a season that threatens to see Spurs fail to qualify for Europe next season.
They also look likely to crash out of the Champions League next week unless they can overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit and beat RB Leipzig in Germany.
There was dismay for Spurs as they crashed out of the FA Cup, losing on penalties to Norwich
Of course, Mourinho hasn’t been helped by injuries to star players Harry Kane and Son Heung-min that has blunted Tottenham’s edge in attack.
But despite those original claims, Mourinho has already compiled quite the catalogue of moans and groans during his time at White Hart Lane.
Man United’s ‘pretend injuries’
Mourinho’s first defeat came in his fourth game in charge, a 2-1 reverse at his former club Manchester United.
It seemed initially as though Mourinho would be magnanimous by criticising his own team’s slow start but he was soon aiming digs at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team for their game management.
‘We started bad, they started well,’ he said. ‘They scored the first goal, could have scored the second and for the first 30 minutes they were not just better than us, they were much better than us.
‘But they were clever in the way they were getting fouls and pretending injuries and controlling.’
Mourinho complains to the fourth official about Man United’s time-wasting back in December
The Portuguese boss almost took a tumble when Daniel James slid into his technical area
Taking aim at the ballboys
Mourinho argued with Southampton’s ‘idiot’ goalkeeping coach Andrew Sparkes for time-wasting as Spurs went down 1-0 to Southampton on New Year’s Day, receiving a yellow card, and then took aim at the St Mary’s ballboys.
‘I think the yellow card is fair because I was rude, but I was rude to an idiot. For some reason I was rude.
‘But I was, and because I was rude I deserve the yellow card. Basically, I had bad words with the guy.
‘The second half was not easy. They were winning, they were defending basically with 10 players, fighting hard and being aggressive, a good aggressive, with lots of fouls, lots of [times] the match stopped and the ballboys were well coached in the delaying of the game and there was not much play.’
Mourinho gets a yellow card from Mike Dean after confronting the Southampton bench
Perhaps the most absurd Mourinho gripe so far came after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round.
The reason for Spurs failing to overcome this modest Championship team was… an underweight Mitre match ball.
‘I think this ball is [a] beach ball. It’s too light. I don’t think it helps the players. But that’s not an excuse.’
Sounds like you’ve literally just used it as an excuse, Jose.
Mourinho kicks the apparently ‘lightweight’ ball used in the FA Cup game at Middlesbrough
The wrong type of winter break
You’d think Mourinho and indeed most Premier League managers would be happy to finally get a winter break to ease strain on their squads.
But Mourinho moaned about the timing of Spurs’ fortnight off, saying it offered them no help with their Champions League ambitions.
It did feature a delightful slip of the tongue as he erroneously called RasenBallsport Leipzig Red Bull, however.
‘It is what it is. I am not happy that the break comes in the wrong moment because the break should be before the Champions League.
‘In the end before the Champions League we don’t have the break. We have to play Aston Villa on the Sunday before playing Red Bull [Leipzig] two days later.’
Mourinho and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during the teams’ meeting in January
No quick fix for the striker shortage
You could see precisely what was going to happen the moment Harry Kane limped out of the loss at Southampton with a serious hamstring injury.
Spurs would be left short up front in the absence of their talisman and chairman Daniel Levy would be highly reluctant to allow Mourinho to sign a new striker in January.
That’s exactly what transpired and Mourinho wasted little time once the window closed in using it as an excuse for the rest of the campaign.
‘Imagine Harry Kane with these four options [Son, Lucas, Lamela, Bergwijn] on the side, it’s magnificent.
Tottenham’s chances of a successful season were dealt a hammer blow by Kane’s injury
‘In this moment, are we going to have a problem [at centre forward]? Yes, we are going to have a problem. But that’s the way it is.
‘I cannot hide. If I say it’s easy to play three competitions without a striker, I’m going to lie. I cannot lie.
‘But if it’s not possible, it’s not possible. For me the great thing is that we’re all together on this in the club. There’s nobody to blame.
‘We don’t want a striker to just help us now. We want a striker to be good for our future, possibly to play with Harry Kane together in the future.
‘And with the difficulties of the market, it was very, very difficult to find [one].’
Kane suffered a hamstring injury that could rule him out for the remainder of the season
The inevitable VAR rant
Mourinho hadn’t managed in the Premier League since the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee technology last summer so it was really just a matter of time before there was a decision he didn’t like.
It duly arrived in Tottenham’s 2-0 home win over Manchester City, with Mourinho incensed after Raheem Sterling got away with just a yellow card following a rash tackle on Dele Alli.
Alli was left with a sore ankle as a result but the decision was made not to upgrade the booking to a red card after VAR consultation.
Raheem Sterling only received a yellow card following a heavy tackle by Raheem Sterling
A furious Mourinho confronted fourth official Graham Scott after VAR didn’t make it a red card
‘I thought I was going to love VAR the way I love goalline technology,’ said Mourinho.
‘I love goalline technology because there is no mistake. The VAR has too many mistakes, too many.
‘The game started immediately with the wrong decision. It’s a red card, it’s a direct red card to Sterling.’
‘A gun without bullets’
In what was to become a common theme, Mourinho, having also lost the influential Son Heung-min to injury by this point, once again bemoaned his lack of firepower.
This came after Spurs lost 1-0 to RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
‘It’s like going to a fight with a gun without bullets.
‘[Erik] Lamela, you know how many training sessions he made with the team? Zero.
‘Direct from injury to recovering on the pitch with the physios, direct to a game on the pitch, 20 minutes in a game in the Champions League. That is our team. You can look at it and you can see the two perspectives.’
Mourinho watches on with a rueful expression as Tottenham slide to defeat against Leipzig
‘I’m going to be very repetitive’
Lo and behold, Mourinho brought up the striker crisis again just a few days later following a 2-1 defeat on his old stomping ground Stamford Bridge.
‘I think you are going to be very bored with me, because I think I’m going to be very repetitive. I’m going to say exactly the same words I said against Leipzig.
‘I’m very proud of the players – they gave absolutely everything. We don’t have a striker. Our attacking players are not strikers and are in huge levels of fatigue, so very, very difficult for us.’
Mourinho on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge as his old club Chelsea beat Spurs once again
Spurs are just ‘too nice’
Moving to what has been another chastening week for Mourinho and Spurs, starting with Sunday’s 3-2 league defeat at home to Wolves.
It was apparent that Mourinho hasn’t yet instilled that us-against-the-world mentality of some of his other teams and he called them out on it.
‘Wolves had the correct mentality. We were punished for quite a long time because we don’t have that aggression. We are too nice. That is the only thing that made the difference in the game.
‘I cannot complain about their spirit, I can complain about some psychological characteristics that are very difficult to change.’
‘People with special status’
With Eric Dier clambering up into the stands on a vigilante mission, it almost became forgotten that Spurs had been dumped out of the FA Cup by Norwich.
Mourinho made no effort to defend Dier’s actions but he did have a sublime pop at the fans who sit in that particular section of the ground and football’s corporate culture.
‘The supporters that are in this privileged position, in this area of the tunnel, of course some are Tottenham fans but also a lot of corporate, invitations and people with special status.
‘It is probably the place in the stadium I sometimes have doubts if they are real Tottenham fans.’
An angered Eric Dier climbed into the stands to confront a fan after the loss to Norwich
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