Jose Mourinho returned to management after taking over the job at
And now, a year later, it is Mourinho who finds himself as a replacement for Pochettino, who was sacked a few days ago. Mourinho now takes over a team that he truly admires and had actually made it known in the past.
For many, this wasn’t a great acquisition for Spurs. After all, Mourinho’s last three tenures ended in a disaster as he seems to fail at grasping the changes brought to the game by father time.
However, he might just succeed with the Lilywhites because of how similar this team is to Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter side.
When Mourinho became the coach of Inter in 2008, they hadn’t won the Champions League in over four decades. They had won the Serie A in the last three campaigns but it came after Juventus were torn apart by the Calciopoli (which actually saw Inter being gifted the title in 2006 despite being second in the table).
Before 2006, they last won the league in 1989, meaning the Nerazzurri were a side that were stuck perennially in the ‘challengers’ zone. And then Mourinho joined in 2008, won the Serie A twice and the Champions League once before leaving in 2010 – after which Inter could only win the Coppa Italia in 2011.
The players that won the treble for him were archetypical Mourinho players – Spurs have them in abundance.
Spurs have Serge Aurier and Ben Davies as the full-backs and while they are nowhere near as good as Maicon and Javier Zanetti were, their key strengths are similar to the Brazilian and Argentine.
Aurier is a strong attacker who likes overlapping like Maicon did while Davies is less adventurous going forward but is a strong defender like Zanetti was.
The similarities become more apparent in midfield. Inter’s three-man midfield often consisted of Esteban Cambiasso, Sulley Muntari and Thiago Motta – a strong and steely almost unbreakable midfield with a trio that were experts at stopping opposition attacks, more brawn than beauty.
At Spurs, his options include (but not limited to): Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele and Victor Wanyama. These are all players who are physical and tenacious in midfield, which is why one has to wonder what the future holds for Giovani Lo Celso.
In Son Heung-min, Mourinho has a goal-scoring threat from the flanks and Harry Kane is a far better striker than Diego Milito was. To bring it all together, Mourinho had Wesley Sneijder at Inter and at Spurs, he has two options: Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.
While Sneijder was an amalgam of both these players as the Dutchman had the vision and passing range of Eriksen and the direct explosiveness of Alli, Mourinho could any one of them to cross the Ts and dot the Is for his side.
He opted for Alli in his first game in charge and the Englishman played out a fine game, assisting Son for his goal while also playing huge role in the buildup of Moura’s goal.
Mourinho has inherited a very Mourinho-type squad at Spurs. In fact, he has more options and depth than he did with Inter, which is why we could expect him to do well at Tottenham – at least in his first couple of seasons.