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

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.

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