Tottenham Hotspur hired Jose Mourinho because he is a serial winner, but at what cost? Justice was dealt at the Molineux last night as with just minutes to go, Wolverhampton Wanderers were able to breach Spurs ‘anti-football’ tactics and left with a deserved point.
Spurs fans would have been rejoicing after taking a first-minute lead; however, it proved to be their undoing. They scored too early to successfully execute their low block tactics as Wolves heaped on the pressure, and Spurs fans had to endure 89 minutes of football which could have put an insomniac to sleep.
A tactic that works when dynamic duo: Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are at their lethal best but invites inferior opposition onto them and brings constant pressure when they are not, which recently has been the case.
Spurs have not won in four league games, and over that period, Kane and Son have bagged just a solitary goal each. It is a run that has seen them slip from first to fifth and possibly as low as seventh If Aston Villa and Manchester City win their games in hand.
There is a reason for their poor turn of form, and it is plain for everyone to see. Their approach to games is too negative to be sustainable. According to Sofascore, yesterday Wolves had: more shots, more possession, more corners, more passes, more dribbles and created more big chances, which is not difficult when Spurs created zero.
This trend has been going on for quite a while now; in fact, the last time Spurs had more shots than their opponents in a league game was against West Bromwich Albion nearly two months ago; this was also the last time they accumulated more xG than their opposition. According to Sky Sports, since the November international break, only West Brom have accumulated fewer xG than Tottenham.
This is a worrying stat for Spurs fans and still maybe not as worrying as a quote from Mourinho following yesterdays match. He told BBC Sport ‘defending deep, that’s not the intention. They know what I asked them at half-time, if they couldn’t do better, it’s because they couldn’t do better.’
This means one of two things, either Mourinho has been setting the team up overly defensively, and it has cost his side points, just like at Selhurst Park, or maybe he is telling the truth, which would be even more alarming. If he is telling the truth, it poses serious questions about his side’s ability as they have been pinned back to defending the edge of their box at various points across the last seven league games
This begs the question, why has Mourinho been receiving so many plaudits? Well, because Tottenham is the perfect job for him. Spurs have been so starved of trophies that it has become just about winning, regardless of the method for fans.
He tried this at Manchester United and with a degree of success too. He lifted the Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield in his first season in charge whilst guiding United to second in the next, an achievement which he said was one of the greatest of his career, so why was he sacked just months later?Embed from Getty Images
The style of play was abysmal, and it just would not run at one of the biggest clubs in the world. According to the BBC, the club said, ‘the new manager will understand the philosophy of the club, including their attacking tradition’.
This is the kind of pressure that at Tottenham he will not receive; after all, how can a club which does not win trophies question the methods of a man that used to win the big ones on a very regular basis? Perhaps his methods are outdated.
There should be questions around Mourinho because recently the football has been abysmal. Earlier on in the season, 2-0 victories against Arsenal and Manchester City were lauded as tactical masterclasses, exposing both teams lack of ability to create chances whilst emphatically punishing them on the counter-attack. Now the negative approach is costing Tottenham points and seeing them slip down the table. If you combine poor form with this ‘anti-football’ style of play, eyes inevitably roll in the direction of the manager.
Spurs’ stint at the top of the table now seems a mere blip, leaving little encouragement that Mourinho is the man to alter Tottenham’s trophy trauma.