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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.