By Ahmed Ali*
With the Coronavirus Pandemic the whole world is in havoc and the premier league is also feeling the pain play has been already postponed twice and now a possible return in early May looks unlikely.
During this break we assess the situation Tottenham FC is in as Mauricio Pochettino established them as a title challenging club in his tenure in the Spurs breakout years, but was sacked in late November 2019 — suggesting that is the state of modern day football where managers simply do not get the necessary time compared to the past due to changing desires and competition at the top level.
Nevertheless, the Argentinian manager’s points per game ratio of 1.17 (his worst as Spurs manager 2014-2019) was the fulcrum of his sacking, paying the price for a poor start to the campaign and leaving Spurs at 14th position in November.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival was exciting news for Lilywhites fans as the Portuguese manager arrived having an ineffable CV. Mourinho, who was welcomed with affluent contract of €17.5m per year, was popular for winning silverware in every club he has managed and seen as an answer to the desperations for glory deprived fans.
Mourinho did change the balance by helping Tottenham to the top half of the table, but the complications predicted earlier when he arrived haunted him and his men and now find themselves 8th with arch-rivals Arsenal in 9th with an extra game to play.
Initially, the 4-3-2-1 system seemed to work with the Spurs winning six of their nine matches, but defensively things just haven’t worked out as numerous of shocking defensive liabilities resulting in only 4 clean sheets this season. (Joint lowest in the league with Aston Villa and Bournemouth)
Since the special one came only Aston Villa (19th) having conceded more goals than Spurs. It is simply mindboggling as Mourinho’s key strengths and plus points all revolve around defensive consistency and also holds the record of fewest goals conceded in a season (15), but dreaded displays by the defenders especially the full backs is a major concern which Mourinho desperately would want to change, selling Kieran Trippier loaning out Kyle Walker-Peters and Danny Rose adds to their ruthlessness at the back.
And these worries do not find any mercy. Prior to a young and an inconsistent midfield, the attack force is the only key for survival for Mourinho’s men, but now face huge setbacks in terms of injures to prolific goal scorer Harry Kane, Son, Sissoko and Bergwijn which furthered damaged the team as they are winless in 7 consecutive matches (0W 1D 6L, Mourinho’s longest winless run of his career).
This poor form led to a thrashing out of the FA Cup and Champions League to vanish hopes of any silverware this season. RP Leipzig comfortably knocked them out (4-0 on aggregate), which also meant that Mourinho is without a win in 8 champions league knockout games with his last coming when Leipzig were in 3rd division.
Solace to the cup exits, the fact that the league form is also being effected negatively is a worrying sign for Spurs fans as things are just not working out at the moment with club in real danger of missing out on a top six finish, which will have a ruthless consequence on the transfer budget of next season.
As the recent lackluster performances speaks for themselves that Mourinho’s sole objective is to overhaul the team as the team is just not ready for a title race. With ex-Manchester United manager nature of spending big in the transfer markets can face an unsustainable decline if they fail to achieve European football next season which becomes likely as the struggles increase. The fear also catches the glimpses of annoyed behavior the Portuguese expresses to the press as he is no stranger to demand and criticize his players and the board publicly with complaints of recent injuries and disparaging poor performances of the individuals an example.
The positive aspect is that the postponed return of the premier league gives Mourinho a breathing space and will give the injured players suitable time to recover, which will be pivotal for a turn around and a possible top six finish. But the pressure is on the 3 time Premier league winner as the ex-legends and the players have made the confusion visible but the club and the fans have huge expectations from him to finally march to glory days in the foreseeable future but all the vying can have a twist in the tale if a quick response is not generated and financial backing of Mourinho is not there.
*The writer Ahmed Ali is a student of 3rd Semester BS (Media & Communications) in Foundation University Rawalpindi, Pakistan and can be reached at [email protected]