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Luka Modric, Bruno Petkovic and defensive solidity: What to expect from Dinamo Zagreb

There is no doubting that Mourinho has the credentials to turn Spurs into bonafide challengers. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GOAL.

In less than 24 hours, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur will be welcoming Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as both sides look to progress to the quarter-finals of UEFA’s secondary club competition.

Unlike Tottenham, Dinamo Zagreb were forced to work a little bit harder to qualify from the round of 32, overcoming FC Krasnodar 4-2 on aggregate whilst Spurs were comfortable 8-1 victors over Austria’s Wolfsberger.

This tie should be significantly harder for the Lilywhites, and for good reason. Led expertly by Zoran Mamic, Dinamo are currently top of the Croatian first division with a superb record having scored 57 goals in 23 games, leading Osijek by two points with a game in hand (Soccerway).

This may not sound like too impressive a stat to the casual fan given the apparent weaknesses you’d imagine there being in Croatian football, however, you can only beat what’s in front of you and Dinamo are doing that superbly whilst also fighting on in Europe.

In terms of players to watch out for, Mourinho and co in North London will be well aware of the fact that Bruno Petkavic scored two of Dinamo’s four goals against Krasnodar across the 180 minutes of the tie, and the 26-year-old is the top scorer for the club in the Europa League this season with four goals in six games (Transfermarkt).

Alongside Petkavic is another threat to keep an eye on going into this clash, a tidy winger who comes in the form of Mislav Orsic. The 28-year-old has got bags of pace and is strong in front of goal to boot, having scored 12 and assisted five goals in 30 games in all competitions this season (Transfermarkt).

Orsic also grabbed a few headlines last season when he popped up and grabbed a hat-trick in the Champions League, scoring three of Dinamo Zagreb’s four goals in a 4-0 win over Atalanta (BBC). He may no longer be playing Champions League football, but that shows exactly the level that the experienced winger can produce, and Spurs need to be wary.

It also must be said that whilst Spurs pummelled eight goals past a sorry Wolfsberger, this Dinamo side are defensively solid, having kept four consecutive clean sheets coming into this one and conceding just two goals in their previous eight games in all competitions.

This will be a tough nut to crack for the Lilywhites, that much is certain, but with Mourinho certainly not sneering at the Europa League so far this season a strong side will be expected in North London for this first leg clash, even if there is the looming derby clash with Arsenal on Sunday to think about.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Dinamo have had to deal with Spurs. Thirteen years ago back in 2008 we saw Daniel Levy wrap up a deal worth around £16m to bring a young Luka Modric to White Hart Lane from Dinamo Zagreb, and he’s now a Ballon d’Or winner.

The young Croatian enjoyed an incredible four seasons with Tottenham (Transfermarkt) before then departing for Real Madrid, a deal which saw Spurs turn a tidy profit on the initial £16m they paid for him (The Telegraph), but Modric was forged in Croatia, and he must serve as a reminder that this Dinamo side will have bags of talent.

Should the Lilywhites be able to run up a tidy first leg lead then it should bode well before travelling to Zagreb for the second clash between the sides next week, but nothing can be taken for granted in this clash, despite many fans potentially looking at it as one of the “easier” draws that they could have got.

Where will Giovani Lo Celso fit in this Tottenham Hotspur side upon his return?

Spurs have been in fine form ever since being beaten by Everton on the first day of the season. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY NBC SPORTS.

Since Tottenham Hotspur were well beaten 3-0 by Manchester City at The Etihad a couple of weeks ago there have been many positives for the Lilywhites, not least 4-1 and 4-0 wins over Austrian outfit Wolfsberger and the 4-0 demolition of Burnley on the weekend.

However, one swallow doesn’t make a summer and it will take more than a week of hot goal-scoring form for Jose Mourinho’s side to truly turn this season into a success, even if Gareth Bale does look like he’s found some swagger.

To aid this Spurs side and make them even better, soon Mourinho will be able to call upon Giovani Lo Celso once again, the Argentine midfield man with plenty of creativity and a strong bite, for the first time since back he picked up a hamstring injury against Leicester back in late December.

After the demolition of Burnley on the weekend saw Mourinho opt for a different system to the 4-3-3 we’ve become accustomed to seeing, though, it begs the question of where will Lo Celso fit?

There is no secret that Mourinho has missed the 24-year-old former PSG and Real Betis man, stating as much after that defeat against Manchester City (Football.London), and in a press conference this week Mourinho confirmed that it would be only a couple more weeks until Lo Celso is back (Football.London).

The Argentine has already scored five goals in his 19 appearances in all competitions this season, including one against Man City in that 2-0 win earlier in the campaign (Transfermarkt). But his game is about far more than just scoring goals.

In Lo Celso’s first seven Premier League appearances this season he was either subbed on from the bench in place of Tanguy Ndombele or he was replaced by the Frenchman, so the obvious answer to where does he fit would be in the Ndombele role, but that cannot be viable.

Both Lo Celso and Ndombele are too talented as individuals to only be able to play one of them, so if we’re to avoid a Gerrard and Lampard dilemma at Spurs, Mourinho must a find a way to play them together.

The obvious option is to revert back from the 4-2-3-1 that worked so well against Burnley to some sort of 4-3-3 with Lo Celso and Ndombele playing with freedom as ‘number 8’s’ in front of the more defensive and aggressive Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

However, given the attacking verve that the Lilywhites came forward with against Burnley, dropping that 4-2-3-1 seems unwise. That’s why we’d love to see Lo Celso come into the side in the role that Lucas Moura found himself playing in.

When comparing the pair’s stats, it’s clear that Lo Celso could bring some more to the number 10 role than Lucas currently is. In the Premier League alone Lo Celso is averaging 0.8 key passes to Lucas’ 0.3, is fouled more at 1.4 times per game to Lucas’ 1.2 and he’s even better at keeping the ball, being dispossessed on 0.8 occasions per match compared to Lucas’ 1.2 times per game.

Moving Lucas from the number 10 role would free up both Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso to share the role, with Lo Celso able to drop into Ndombele’s number 8 position when the Frenchman is injured or suspended, plus it would allow the naturally quicker Lucas to fight for one of the two wide positions with Gareth Bale, Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son.

Whatever Jose Mourinho opts to do with Lo Celso, he’s bound to show off the bags of talent that he has, but if he had the free reign in the number 10 position supplying the ammunition for Harry Kane, Bale and Son this Spurs side could become a more consistently free-scoring side, something we’re yet to see under Mourinho.

Goals have come in spells under the Portuguese tactician, with this week being a prime example alongside the early form at the start of the season that saw 5-2 and 6-1 wins over Southampton and Manchester United in consecutive games, but sustaining it has proved difficult.

Obviously it will still be a couple of weeks before we get to see if Lo Celso can find a home centrally in the three of a 4-2-3-1, but it’s what we want to see, and could prove decisive in the final weeks of the season as the race for the top four, the latter stages of the Europa League and the League Cup final all loom.

Seeing a side with all five of Ndombele, Lo Celso, Bale, Son and Kane would be a real sign of attacking intent from Mourinho, though, and if Dele can also be shoehorned in then it’s a bonus, but surely this is the way to get the best out of our mercurial Argentine?

Tottenham Hotspur and the elephant in the room

Bale returning to Spurs is a huge step for the North London as they look to win silverware this season. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SCOOPER.

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur are not a Premier League side who will go down in history for their attacking verve and goal scoring exploits, not yet anyway, yet in their ranks are some sublime options.

However, one man has earned headlines for the wrong reasons, and as we approach March all that can be looked back upon is feelings that ‘the next match is so important’ when it comes to the returning Gareth Bale.

The Welsh winger has managed just eight Premier League appearances, with his first coming off the bench in the calamitous 3-3 draw at home to West Ham, unhelpful for Bale who was brought onto the pitch with the game seemingly won at 3-0.

Regardless, a player with Bale’s talent should be doing better, that much is obvious, but the money that he earns gives him little in the way of slack, as his £600,000 per/week wages simply demand a higher standard.

Bale returning to Spurs is a huge step for the North London as they look to win silverware this season. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SCOOPER.

The last few weeks, however, have given many Tottenham fans some much-needed hope – a rare commodity amongst the mires of five losses in six league games – that Bale may be starting to get up to speed at last.

It all began away at The Etihad when the 2016 European Championship’s semi-finalist picked up the ball just outside the Man City box, jinked his way past the incoming Bernardo Silva, sidestepped Aymeric Laporte and then drifted past John Stones before stinging Ederson’s palms.

This may sound trivial, a shot on target well saved being a turning point – but this is Jose Mourinho’s Spurs. The scoreline in the game at that point was 3-0. The game was gone and Spurs fans were looking for something to excite them.

Bale provided it.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 13: Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur shoots during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on February 13, 2021 in Manchester, England. (PHOTO BY TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC/TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Since that moment the four-time Champions League winner has added two goals to his highlight reel that won’t look out of place even amongst his greatest strikers, as he bagged in both legs of the 8-1 aggregate demolition of Austrian Wolfsberger.

More importantly than those goals, though, was the display that Bale provided for the fans at the London Stadium in between the two legs of Europa League football. A half-time substitute in a London derby that left many a Tottenham supporter purring.

His cameo against West Ham was his best performance in the league for Spurs since his return and in just one half of football he managed to get himself an assist, a deserved reward considering he managed one key pass, one tackle, one dribble and one clearance, according to WhoScored.

This period of time from that jink against Manchester City to now has given us a lot to be excited about with Bale, who up until now has managed just six goals in 19 games in all competitions this season (Transfermarkt), and we should all be hoping that the best is yet to come.

It also appears to the naked eye that this weekend could see Bale play a serious role in the Premier League meeting between Tottenham and Burnley, as Mourinho left him on the bench against Wolfsberger in midweek.

He did come on and superbly whip a first-time left-footed effort into the top corner, linking up with Dele Alli to do so, but seeing as he failed to get the full 90 on Thursday, Spurs fans far and wide will be desperate to see the Gareth Bale of old on Sunday, from the start and in the devastating form that so many have been waiting for.

Tanguy Ndombele, Joe Rodon and other reasons for optimism at Tottenham

Jose Mourinho says he is happier now than when he took the Tottenham job one year ago – and he feels he is still improving as a manager. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GOAL.

The last few days have been extremely tough to stomach for Tottenham Hotspur. Losses at home to Liverpool and away to Brighton in the space of four days makes for poor reading, and their next fixture is not an easy one, hosting Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea this Thursday.

That Premier League clash will be a key one, although if the Lilywhites are to lose it then all hope won’t be lost. It can be easy to be negative in times like these, but that’s why we’re here on this dreary Monday to find you some reasons to be more optimistic.

We’ve dug out four things that should keep fans from getting too down about the awful football that the club is currently producing, which would be forgotten for even a day or two should a positive result against Chelsea be achieved later this week.

Tanguy Ndombele

If there is any one reason to smile at the moment for Tottenham Hotspur then it is absolutely Tanguy Ndombele.

The French maverick, despite his underwhelming debut season in north London, has become everything that Spurs fans wanted in he second season.

Whether it be his fantastic first-time turn against Liverpool, making treble-winner Thiago Alcantara look silly, or his goals from the bench against Wycombe, he’s shown that he can be a real player in a Jose Mourinho team.

This may come as a surprise to many though, especially after his aforementioned first season in England. In a recent interview with Telefoot (via the Daily Mail), Ndombele admitted to wanting to leave Spurs after just one season, before adding:

“My first season was tough, I questioned myself a lot, now the page is turned.

“It is true that at a certain moment I wanted to leave, I didn’t feel in the right place. I told them I wanted out. They didn’t want me to go.”

What a decision it was from the club to ensure that Ndombele would stay too. The former Lyon man has been a standout for the Lilywhites, and his underlying numbers really help to hit that fact home.

The key stats that highlight Ndombele’s game are almost undoubtedly his dribbling numbers. In the Premier League this season he’s averaging 2.3 dribbles per game and is being fouled 1.7 times per game (WhoScored), demonstrating his ability to relieve pressure by taking the ball out from deep midfield positions.

When coupling that with his 0.7 key passes per game, 1.4 tackles and 0.8 interceptions (WhoScored) the Frenchman was proven that he can be a smooth, dynamic midfield operator when facing both his own goal and the oppositions, something that has made the last few weeks at least bearable for fans.

Joe Rodon

This may not be what many fans would expect to have come after reading about Ndombele’s brilliance. However, the Lilywhites’ new Welsh defender has the potential to be everything that Jose Mourinho wants at the heart of his defence.

Against Liverpool last Thursday it was the ex-Swansea man’s error that led to the champion’s scoring their third decisive goal in the 3-1 home loss, but that shouldn’t discourage the fans from supporting the youngster.

After that performance against Liverpool, Jose Mourinho was keen to provide assurances that Rodon is very much part of his plans. The Portuguese went as far as to guarantee that Rodon would start against Brighton (The Evening Standard), and the young Welshman should expect many more starts in the week to come.

So far in the Premier League this season the 23-year-old has put up impressive numbers, his stats of 1.1 tackles and 2.3 clearances per game show his defensive capabilities, not to mention his 1.3 interceptions which ranks him 2nd amongst the Tottenham squad in that metric (WhoScored).

In a season where both Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier have made some high profile errors it very much looks like Rodon and Toby Alderweireld, who made a sublime goal line block to deny Brighton a second last night, could be the first choice pairing going forward.

What Rodon also brings is the ability to play competently in both a two man and a three-man defensive line, as he showed against Brighton in the first half playing alongside Alderweireld and Sanchez before Mourinho reverted to just the Welshman and Alderweireld in the second 45.

Harry Kane

Now, if Joe Rodon was a shock inclusion for you in this list of reasons to be cheerful, the Kane may also come as a surprise. Against Liverpool last week the England skipper suffered not just one but two ankle injuries having been challenged by both Thiago and Jordan Henderson in the first half.

It appeared, at first, like this could be the beginning of the end of Spurs’ season, and with good reason. This is the 5th consecutive season in which Kane has missed games with an ankle problem (Transfermarkt), and when the 27-year-old often carries the Lilywhites in attack that is a worrying statistic.

However, the reason why Kane finds himself on this list is because Jose Mourinho gave us an update on the striker’s fitness, and it’s a surprisingly positive one just days after the fans will have been coming to terms with their key man’s absence.

The update, found on the club’s website, claims that Kane could be back in just a couple of weeks. With Jose Mourinho saying:

“The news is pretty good news,

“Harry is optimistic, he has the experience of some injuries in his ankles and in Harry’s mind, it’s a couple of weeks, so let’s see if he’s right.”

Wembley

This may be an easy one to forget, but the first major piece of silverware up for grabs in the 2020/21 season is going to be won by either Tottenham or Manchester City. Jose Mourinho will do battle with Pep Guardiola once again, and it’s all to play for.

The Lilywhites have been waiting for 13 years to win a trophy, with their last success coming in this competition back in 2008 under Juande Ramos, and now it’s time for the fans to celebrate something.

Premier League glory is almost guaranteed to remain elusive for the north Londoners, despite their early season form which had the club at the top of the league, but with this trip to Wembley on the horizon, on top of their continued progression in both the FA Cup and Europa League, a trophy is very possible for Spurs.

Having the aforementioned Kane back to fitness for the April 25th final will be a huge boost so long as he can avoid a relapse of the ankle injury that currently has him side lined, and whilst a lot can change in the next couple of months, the Lilywhites have a strong record against City.

Spurs have won their last two meetings against Manchester City, winning both 2-0 at the new White Hart Lane, and prior to that was the famous Champions League quarter-final clash that saw the Lilywhites progress in dramatic fashion (11v11), so there’s no reason why we can’t see another Spurs triumph at the expense of Pep’s juggernaut.

Best in the Premier League? We think so…

Heung-Min Son headed home from Harry Kane's flick-on to give Tottenham a 1-0 win over Burnley on Monday Night Football; The pair have now combined for nine goals in the Premier League this season and 29 in total. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

The 2020/21 season has certainly been a roller coaster. There have been shocks at every turn, but one element of the season that hasn’t surprised is the sumptuous form of Harry Kane.

The England skipper has always scored goals, but in the current campaign we’ve seen so much more from the 27-year-old, and with only 18 Premier League games under his belt he’s contributed directly to 23 goals (12 goals and 11 assists) in the competition, according to (Transfermarkt).

Part of that is down to his magnificent partnership with Spurs’ South Korean dynamo Heung-Min Son, but it cannot go unnoticed that Kane’s ability as both a creator and a finisher is at an all-time high.

The goals and assists themselves are impressive enough, yet when digging deeper to find the underlying numbers, our admiration for Kane only grows.

In the current campaign, we’ve seen Kane feature for a total of 1615 minutes, almost a full 1000 minutes less than he managed in the entirety of 2019/20 (2595), yet he’s racked up nine more assists this time around and is only six goals behind the 18 he bagged in that campaign, as per Understat.

For those sceptics out there who may not be convinced – we’re not done yet. It’s not just down to the fact that Son is in electric form in front of goal that Kane’s assist tally is so high, as the level of passing Kane is producing is off the charts.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with teammate Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur after scoring their team’s first goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on January 02, 2021 in London, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY ANDY RAIN – POOL/GETTY IMAGES.

The Tottenham talisman has outperformed his xG (expected goals) in every Premier League season he’s played in, yet over the previous three full campaigns between 2017-2020, he’s managed to underperform his xA (expected assists).

That’s not the case this time around. His xA statistic of 5.41 is being smashed out of the park by his total of 11 assists, with that coming down to the fact that Kane is averaging a career-high 1.62 key passes per game.

Those numbers mean that Kane’s xA90 (expected assists per 90 minutes) is at a whopping 0.30, which when tallied with his xG0 (expected goals per 90 minutes) of 0.60, totals 0.90 expected goal involvements per 90 minutes in the Premier League.

When comparing this tally with the rest of the Premier League, of all the players who have completed at least 500 minutes in the competition, only Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes and Jamie Vardy boast better expected goals and assists per 90 minutes.

Even with that being the case though, none of that trio has managed to turn their underlying numbers into hard and fast goals like Kane has, with all of them falling short of the Spurs man’s 23 combined goals and assists.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur scores their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on January 13, 2021 in London, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY TOTTENHAM FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

It also has to be said that we are only 18 games into the Premier League campaign. With 20 games left to go, if Kane is to play every available minute left in the competition the numbers have him scoring another 12 goals and registering another six assists.

This would have the England man ending the campaign with 24 goals and 17 assists, a combined 41 goal contributions in 38 game season that would only fall behind Thierry Henry’s 44 in 2002/03, Luis Suarez’s 43 in 2013/14 and Mo Salah’s 42 in 2017/18, according to data from Planet Football.

However, that is only if Kane starts to revert to the average goals scored/assisted for the underlying numbers that he is putting up. If his goal and assist tallies continue to outperform these numbers then there will be records being smashed all over the place.

Instead, if Kane continues to score and assist at his current rate of a goal every 134 minutes and an assist every 146 minutes for the remaining 1800 minutes of Premier League football on offer then his numbers will be even more startling.

ENFIELD, ENGLAND – APRIL 08: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during a Tottenham Hotspur training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final match against Manchester City. on April 08, 2019 in Enfield, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY DAN MULLAN/GETTY IMAGES.

At this rate, he’ll end the season with 25 goals and 23 assists, a total of 48 goal involvements, more than any player has ever managed in a 38 game Premier League season.

It remains to be seen whether or not the 27-year-old will be able to keep this hot streak going though. Injuries could obviously derail things for Kane – as they have done so before – but if he can stay fit it would be silly to bet against Tottenham’s #10.

This is clearly the best form that we have ever seen Harry Kane in and all there is to be done is to enjoy his brilliance week in week out. The hope now is just that this individual form can be capitalised on by Jose Mourinho to bring his star man the one thing that his illustrious career has so far lacked – silverware.

An ode to a Tottenham hero who has suffered in recent years, Danny Rose

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur looks on as the snow falls during the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Replay match between Tottenham Hotspur and Rochdale on February 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SHAUN BOTTERILL/GETTY IMAGES.

“Towards the near post, Almunia opts to punch… Ohhh what a goal, It’s Danny Rose on his Premier League debut with a memorable strike. Can you believe it?”

Just nine minutes into his Premier League debut, a 19-year-old Danny Rose scored the goal of his career, with some iconic commentary going with it to add to the brilliance.

However, almost 11 years on from that wonderful moment back in April 2010, the now veteran full-back is close to leaving Tottenham, and it seems he’s set to be bundled out of the back door.

This would have been a hard situation to envisage as recently as two years ago, as he managed 26 Premier League appearances during the 2018/19 season (Transfermarkt), also featuring in the Champions League final against Liverpool that year.

TOPSHOT – Tottenham Hotspur’s English defender Danny Rose controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid on June 1, 2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP.

Under Mauricio Pochettino, Rose was one of the best full-backs in England. His dynamism down the left made him a superb outlet for the Lilywhites during their best period of the Premier League era.

It was in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 campaigns where we really saw the best of the Doncaster-born defender.

If it wasn’t for the surprise campaign of Leicester City in 15/16 and Antonio Conte’s debut season at Chelsea then Rose would almost definitely be a Premier League winner, although after this point things quickly went downhill for him.

By this point, a fully-fledged England international, Rose suffered a serious knee injury in January 2017 and he didn’t return to football until October that year.

A lot changed in his nine months on the sidelines. It was in August that year when Rose gave an intriguing interview to The Sun, where he made waves about not being paid what he felt he was worth, Spurs signing players ‘that you have to Google’ and wanting to move up north to play football in his career.

This certainly didn’t help his cause in a lot of ways, but as ever, Rose has always spoken his mind and it is hard to criticise him for that.

It was even more impressive then, that after the interview and his knee injury, that in the 2018/19 campaign he had the resurgence that he did, with things looking bright until Jose Mourinho came in at the club.

Since Mourinho’s appointment at Tottenham in November 2019 Rose has made just six appearances for the club (Transfermarkt) and was even loaned out to Newcastle for the second half of the 2019/20 season (BBC).

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 11: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold battles with Tottenham’s Danny Rose during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on January 11, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY STEPHANIE MEEK – CAMERSPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Since his return to the club after that loan spell, things have been very quiet from Rose. His time at Spurs looks to be over, and instead of going out as a celebrated fan favourite as he should be, he’s set to be bundled out of the back door.

It doesn’t appear that the former England international will be sold this January, despite the fact that he’ll be desperate to get back out on a football pitch sooner or later, and the likelihood is that he will leave for free in summer.

With both Sergio Reguilon and Ben Davies the two rotating left-backs for Tottenham, Rose will never play for Tottenham again in this current spell, and that realisation is a sad one.

His 214 appearances for Tottenham shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet because of the circumstances he now he finds himself living with at the club, as racking up over ten years of service for a single club is not to be sneered at.

A testimonial looks unlikely, however, and all we hope is that when the day comes that Rose does exit the club he is looked back as the star defender that he was in his prime.

Mourinho and the Tottenham mentality after a fine week for the Lilywhites

Mourinho put his new squad through their paces at Hotspur Way on Wednesday morning following the shock sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday evening. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD.

Words like ‘Spursy’ and ‘Bottlers’ have followed Tottenham Hotspur in recent years. Even in the peak of their powers under Mauricio Pochettino, these tags were inescapable.

Finishing 3rd in a two-horse race in the 2015/16 Premier League season, losing out to Chelsea and then Manchester United in back-to-back FA Cup semi-finals in 2017 and 2018 and then falling to Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League final hasn’t helped that.

Now, though, with serial winner Jose Mourinho in charge, many fans are hoping that Pochettino’s era of wonder football can be followed up with a ruthless streak. Trophies are what the supporters are baying for, and who can blame them?

With that in mind, we’re taking a look into what the mentality of the football club looks like now that we’re over a year into Mourinho’s tenure in north London, and what a time to do so seeing as we now know that the Portuguese tactician will be heading to Wembley for his first final with the Lilywhites.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho (L) and Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min react at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brentford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 5, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GLYN KIRK/POOL/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Let’s start with the performance that got Spurs there; a well-fought, professional 2-0 home win over Championship Brentford.

The Tuesday night win was an utterly classy one. In a game where the neutral supporter was always going to side with the underdog, Moussa Sissoko’s early header set the tempo, and despite the Bees going close to an equaliser – with VAR stepping in to save Spurs – Heung-Min Son secured the win with a wonderfully worked goal on the counter.

It’s after these goals were scored that we saw what Mourinho is doing with this Spurs team though. Brentford were down to 10 after the horrific, albeit unintentional, challenge that Josh Da Silva put in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and yet Mourinho brought the young defender Japhet Tanganga on in the Danish international’s place.

This had Spurs, for the final minutes of a game against a Championship side with ten men, lined up with seven defensively minded players in Serge Aurier, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies, Harry Winks, Sissoko and Tanganga on the pitch when the final whistle blew.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as he is substituted during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY ADAM DAVY/PA IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES.

That shows so much of Mourinho’s thinking. The reason that he’s had so much success is his uncompromising approach in these games. Even in the final minutes of a game that is seemingly won, he took absolutely no chances.

Just 24 hours after sending Brentford on their way and booking their place at Wembley that Mourinho will have sat down to find out whether or not he’d be facing his former club in Manchester United or his former El Classico rival in Pep Guardiola in the final.

As we all now know, it’s the latter. This clash will see two behemoths of the managerial game go head-to-head – and in a competition that the Iberian pair have dominated in recent years, as only the only other coach to break their six-year duopoly of success in the League Cup over the last six years is Manuel Pellegrini.

Back to Tottenham, though, and whilst the Premier League campaign started inconsistently, looked to have found its feet and then wavered again, the cup competition has been a welcome release in recent weeks with this win over Brentford and the 3-1 victory over Stoke prior to Christmas.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 05: Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal during the Carabao Cup Semi Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Brentford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on January 05, 2021 in London, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CLIVE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES.

This is a far cry from what was going on this time last year at Spurs, though. Mourinho’s Tottenham found themselves struggling in the 2019/20 season, exiting the FA Cup after a penalty shootout defeat at home to Norwich before then falling to a 1-0 loss, again at home, to RB Leipzig in the Champions League round of sixteen.

These defeats looked as ‘Spursy’ as they come.

However, now the Lilywhites are heading back to Wembley, and the time they’ve spent under Mourinho seems to be paying out in a big way now.

Harry Kane last year spoke about his desire to win silverware (Sky Sports), and even more recently Eric Dier spoke about on the matter after the Brentford win (Daily Mail), hitting home just how desperate this crop of players is to end their 13-year trophy doubt.

ENFIELD, ENGLAND – APRIL 08: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during a Tottenham Hotspur training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final match against Manchester City. on April 08, 2019 in Enfield, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY DAN MULLAN/GETTY IMAGES.

We all know that if Mourinho wins only the Carabao Cup in his time at Tottenham then he won’t be labelled as a success, but this is the start that the fans want and that the players need, and it must be said that the Europa League, FA Cup and Premier League are all still competitions that the Lilywhites cannot be ruled out of potentially winning this season.

The Premier League would be a stretch to win given the competition so far, but with a Europa League round of 32 game on the horizon against Austria’s Wolfsberger and an FA Cup tie against Marine this weekend, the opportunity of ending this season with multiple trophies is still on.

It remains to be seen whether or not Spurs will find the mettle to get through their Wembley final against Manchester City in April, and their progress in other competitions will be watched closely.

However, what cannot be doubted is that Mourinho is slowly working his magic with the club, and we at Spurs Central believe it would be unwise to bet against him ending the club’s trophy drought and continuing his fine run of winning silverware everywhere he goes.

Where are we now with Tottenham Hotspur?

Tottenham have been solely reliant on the goals of two incredibly talented players, but when you take Kane and Son out of the mix there is a lack of ownership in Mourinho's team. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GETTY AMGES VIA SPURS EXPRESS.

Jose Mourinho’s job is certainly not an envious one. That much was made clear during the Portuguese’s horror week in charge of Tottenham Hotspur.

The Lilywhites, despite being top of the Premier League little over a week ago now find themselves as low as 6th in the table, and with both Manchester City and Aston Villa boasting games in hand they could even end up 8th if those results go against the north Londoners.

This is all because of three nasty results just before the Christmas period, and having suffered through these testing times against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Leicester City, where do Spurs find themselves?

In short, things aren’t all as bad as they seem for Jose’s men, and in truth, this looks like a regression to the mean rather than some sort of drop off in form.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho was back to his feisty best in his post-Liverpool interview at Anfield. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY BBC SPORT.

Only once in their last six Premier League fixtures have Tottenham ended a match with a higher expected goals tally than their opponent, and strangely enough that game came at Anfield, as per Understat.

If anything, the xG tallies that Tottenham have been posting are ludicrous when compared to their actual performances. A lot of the Lilywhites can pin this on the phenomenal scoring records of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, but the underlying numbers are worrying.

Many fans will think that this fall from the summit of the Premier League to the depths of 6th is a fall from grace, but Understat’s expected points table actually has the Lilywhite’s down in 7th, not too far from where they currently sit.

So why do the numbers look so worrying?

Heung-Min Son headed home from Harry Kane’s flick-on to give Tottenham a 1-0 win over Burnley on Monday Night Football; The pair have now combined for nine goals in the Premier League this season and 29 in total. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

In short, it’s because Tottenham have been solely reliant on the goals of two incredibly talented players, but when you take Kane and Son out of the mix there is a lack of ownership in Mourinho’s team.

No one is doubting that the creative genius of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso has been a breath of fresh air, and the tough-tackling new signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been a joy to behold, but no Tottenham player other than Kane or Son has scored more than one goal in the Premier League, according to WhoScored.

Even if you do expect the entire season to be carried on the back’s of the dynamic South Korean and multi-faceted England captain, the individual performances of the pair are bound to regress at some point.

No one in the league is outperforming their individual xG more than Heung-Min Son. According to the numbers, he should have bagged himself five goals this season with an xG of 4.94, yet he’s scored 11 times in total, the same amount as Jamie Vardy despite having an xG almost three times lower than the Leicester man, Understat claim.

Leicester City climbed to second place in the Premier League with an impressive 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE TELEGRAPH.

Even if there is no regression from what has been an awe-inspiring season from both Kane and Son, we all know what injuries can do to a football club, and Kane has seen his fair share of blows in recent years.

The last time that Kane completed a season with a clean bill of health was in the 2015/16 season, and with the Lilywhites going all-in on Kane and Son bailing them out with goals, things look extremely worrying should the worst happen.

With this in mind, though, where are we now with Tottenham?

In truth, it’s early enough in the campaign for Jose Mourinho to make changes and sort out what could become a horrible mess well before it gets to that point.

It’s true that Spurs have spurned a huge chance to go into Christmas as the Premier League leaders, but they’re still competing in four competitions having topped their Europa League group and can now look forward to a Carabao Cup quarter-final, especially with the squad mostly injury-free.

Mourinho is still working on his team and has a long and famous history of pulling trophies out of the bag, so it’s worth keeping faith, even if the past week has been a difficult one for the supporters. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY FOOTBALL.LONDON.

For Mourinho to start turning the narrative back into the Lilywhites’ favour, though, it’s about time he started maximising the talent at his disposal.

Ndombele’s change in form has been remarkable from last season to now, but Mourinho needs to find a way to get the likes of Steven Bergwijn and Gareth Bale firing, not to mention the forlorn figure who used to be Dele Alli.

The beauty of football is that everything can change in a matter of weeks. In a sport that prides itself on it’s unpredictability, anything is possible. No – Spurs probably won’t win the Premier League, and yes, Mourinho has a lot of work to do, but that doesn’t mean this can’t be a good year for those in N17.

With just three games between Tottenham and the Carabao Cup, this could still easily be the season in which the club end’s their trophy drought, whilst a dream FA Cup draw against 8th tier Marine should also have the club sailing into 4th round.

There is no doubting that Mourinho has the credentials to turn Spurs into bonafide challengers. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GOAL.

Silverware is what the supporters want at the end of the day, couple it with a top-four finish and both the supporters and Daniel Levy will both be satisfied, so it’s probably time to listen to Jose and start treating this Spurs side as a little horse instead of one of the front runners in the title race.

A 4th placed-finish, a domestic cup triumph and a strong run in the Europa League would not be looked back on in years to come as a failure for this Tottenham side, especially in the era of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

All in all, things could easily get a whole lot worse for Tottenham. The fans won’t like to hear it, but Mourinho is still working on his team and has a long and famous history of pulling trophies out of the bag, so it’s worth keeping faith, even if the past week has been a difficult one for the supporters.

Is Roy Keane correct in accusing Spurs of being a bit too soft?

Roy Keane says Tottenham have shown a bit of 'softness' in a bad week, after they picked up just 1 point from their last 3 matches. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

After Spurs slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home against Leicester City in the Premier League, Roy Keane has accused Tottenham of being ‘soft’ and falling back on old tendencies.

After a week where Spurs drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace, lost to Liverpool and were beaten by Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes, Roy Keane has suggested that they were a bit “like the Spurs of the old days.”

He continued: “Lots of credit to Mourinho for sorting it, but conceding late at Liverpool, not holding on at Crystal Palace and now this. They’ve gone back to the “Spursy” way.

Leicester City climbed to second place in the Premier League with an impressive 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE TELEGRAPH.

“They’ve given a crazy goal away, they’ve conceded late on against Liverpool, a set play. They don’t hang on at Palace. They’ve gone back to the old Spursy way with a bit of softness.”

Spurs will be the last team to play a game in Matchweek 15 and if all the teams below them win their games, they could be ninth by Saturday evening which will be a harsh swing of momentum.

There’s no denying that the Lily Whites have been very good so far this season but with so many sides playing good football in the top half of the table this year, missed chances will be damaging.

If Mourinho’s players find themselves 9th place before they face Wolves, it will be a rude awakening and the two chances that Steven Bergwijn had against Liverpool will feel even more like a missed opportunity.

Bergwijn had two 1 v 1s with Alisson Becker but missed twice, including a shot that hit the post. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE DAILY MIRROR.

Mourinho and his coaching staff will be all too aware of how important it is that Spurs don’t drop points for a fourth consecutive game as it will make challenging for the league title that much harder.

We need to talk about Harry Kane and cheating

Harry Kane has once again been accused of diving after he went over too easily against Leicester. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY HOTSPUR HQ.

Harry Kane has once again been called out for cheating but this time it’s for his diving after he simulated against Leicester City.

A video shared to Twitter by user @THINGEO illustrates the Spurs striker pushing the ball past Leicester City defender Timothy Castagne before diving over the tackle with his legs pinned together.

Diving has been a major issue in the Premier League for several years and it has been made even worse by the introduction of VAR. Kane is a serial defender and even has a trademark style in which he dupes referees.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane dismissed accusations of diving from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk following a 2-2 draw at Anfield. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

In February 2018, van Dijk accused Kane of diving to win a penalty at Anfield but the Spurs striker denied the accusation.

Kane responded to the charges, saying: “He (Karius) has dived, he got in the way and I’m a player, I’m not going to jump out of the way because it’s football.

“I definitely felt contact and I went down.”

Just two weeks ago, Premier League Central columnist James Wilkinson penned an article about Kane and the new dangerous habit he has formed which will soon get one of his opponents seriously injured.

Accusing a footballer of cheating isn’t something I take lightly but Spurs fans will agree that removing simulation from his game will only improve Kane as a player. He uses it as a crutch in games where things aren’t going his way.

Spurs succumbed to a 2-0 defeat on Sunday – a game in which Kane failed to register a single shot on target.