The Graham Cummins column: Mourinho hasn't changed but his tactics still work

The Graham Cummins column: Mourinho hasn't changed but his tactics still work

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho (left) and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on the touchline. Picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire. 

THIS ‘old dog’ hasn’t learnt new tricks.

Jose Mourinho is still deploying the same tactics he did at the start of his managerial career as he is now.

The same people that were calling Mourinho a ‘dinosaur’ in the past, because of the way the former Chelsea manager instructed his team to play, are the same people calling him a genius now.

It was ironic that Mourinho saw his side leap to the top of the table after Spurs defeated Manchester City 2-0.

City are managed by Pep Guardiola, a man who has revolutionised the English game and showed that success can be achieved by playing with such an attack-minded philosophy.

When Guardiola began managing Barcelona back in 2008, he was seen as the new kid on the block and a person who beliefs were the way managers should want to win football matches not the way Mourinho saw winning – win at all costs.

For years, Mourinho was seen as the best manager in the world but Guardiola dismantled the Spurs manager.

Mourinho’s reign as Manchester United manager might not have ended well but he was still successful during his time at Old Trafford and many were quick to forget that.

Football fans questioned his appointment as Spurs manager and considered Mourinho lucky to get such a job.

If Mourinho’s first year in charge of Spurs has thought us anything, is that, no matter how good a manager is, it’s ultimately up to the players whether he is a success or not. Mourinho is a manager that wants to win at all costs.

He knows that winning a game isn’t all about dominating possession or even having the better players in your team, it’s about hard work and having players that are willing to carry out the instructions given by the manager. Mourinho is clever enough to know that in certain games, he can’t instruct his players to go all-out attack against teams otherwise they will end up losing.

Sometimes in football, players and managers have to acknowledge that the opposition is better than them and that the only way to get a result is do the ugly side of the game well.

Jose Mourinho congratulates his players. Picture: PA
Jose Mourinho congratulates his players. Picture: PA

Last Saturday’s game against City was a classic example.

Only those who enjoy the art of defending will appreciate just how good that Spurs performance was. City are a quality team and can unlock a defence with the slightest mistake. For Spurs to stay that focused for more than 90 minutes and keep a clean sheet is not easy. All it takes is for one player to switch off and the rest of the team suffer.

Spurs do not have the players capable of going toe-to-toe with City and Mourinho knows this, which is why we saw Tottenham have only 34% possession, 18 fewer efforts on goal but still won the game 2-0.

The Portuguese man still plays attacking football but not to the degree that most Spurs supporters want their team to play. I’m sure had fans been at the game against City there would have been moans and groans from supporters watching their side have 11 men behind the ball for the majority of the game. 

Those moans do filter to the players and do affect them and can lead to players going against their manager's wishes to please supporters. However, without a crowd, Spurs players are starting to realise that it doesn’t matter how you win just as long as you do.

Harry Kane and Jose Mourinho.
Harry Kane and Jose Mourinho.

Daniel Levy has always come under scrutiny but he has supported Mourinho no matter what, unlike the Spurs’ manager’s previous employers United.

Mourinho has had conflict with players at Spurs, such as Dele Ali and Danny Rose, but rather than entertain them, the former Inter Milan manager has brushed them aside and left them out of squads. Levy has trusted his manager and believed he has done the right thing by making these players outcasts.

Mourinho is Spurs’ priority, unlike at United where it felt Paul Pogba was more important than the manager.

I don’t believe Spurs will win the Premier League but they can win a trophy this season and who would have thought a club with a ‘dinosaur’ manager would be able to do that.

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