What a couple of days it’s been at my old club Spurs with the arrival of Jose Mourinho barely 12 hours after the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, who left on Tuesday night having spent five years in the hot seat.
I for one certainly was surprised by the decision to sack Pochettino during the international break; something which was clearly pre-planned as Jose and his staff were ready to hit the ground running.
To be fair, I think it was something they had to do as Spurs sit a lowly 14th in the Premier League with Champions League places only a dot on the horizon at the moment and his arrival at the club brings huge optimism as, love him or loathe him, he wins trophies.
His relationship with Daniel Levy is one to watch closely though, as Jose has tended to spend big everywhere he has gone and we all know how tightly the Spurs chairman holds the purse strings at that club.
That said, he does spend when needed and I think at times he’s unfairly criticised for not splashing the cash, he’s just running an excellent business parallel with a successful football team – a balance that is extremely difficult to maintain.
Jose has rarely worked without expensive ready-made players so January will be interesting and while I don’t doubt they should spend big on players, they haven’t faired too badly under Levy’s stewardship; who allowed Pochettino to spend £394 million while recouping £295 – which looks like pretty good business to me.
Levy may loosen the purse strings ever-so-slightly for Jose however, as this Tottenham team is in need of something of a revamp, particularly when it comes to the defence, with a number of key names looking like they might depart in the summer.
But it’s not just the personal on the pitch which might change in the coming months, the type of football on offer at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will likely be transformed too.
Spurs supporters have become used to the fast-paced and free-flowing style Pochettino has brought them the last five seasons, not to mention the high intensity pressing, slick, goal scoring football that has made them a joy to watch.
Mourinho’s style is completely different, however, and it’s been pretty much the same at all the clubs he managed: solid, organised, ‘get the job done,’ football. So the supporters may have to be patient and swap style for substance if they want some silverware.
Will Jose and Spurs be a good fit? Well, it all depends which Jose turns up in my opinion.
If it’s the bright, energetic Mourinho, who had so much success during two spells at Chelsea, rather than the moody, grumpy, seemingly at war with the world Jose at Manchester United, then Daniel Levy’s huge gamble in sacking Pochettino may just pay off.
Spurs take on a struggling West Ham this weekend with their new boss in the dug-out against a team who haven’t won since mid-September with an impressive 2-0 victory against Jose’s former club, Manchester United, and the hammers have lost five and drawn two of their previous seven since then.
On paper an ideal start for Jose and I can’t see West Ham causing a re-energised Spurs side who will be full of players wanting to impress the new manger any problems.
I think we may see a rare clean sheet from a newly organised back four and that’s why I’m going for Tottenham to win to nil and Deli Ali to score anytime at 10.00.*
England continue to grow in confidence
Another international break over and another convincing qualifying campaign from England comes to a close in emphatic style with a 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro and a 4-0 win in Kosovo.
I thought they were excellent in qualification, albeit they have had problems defensively which needs to be addressed before playing stronger opposition, also the midfield in comparison to others isn’t by any means world class.
Tyrone Mings’ performances have done more than enough for him to warrant a shirt a long side Harry Maguire in the centre of defence and I think he looked assured and composed, but let’s be honest; against opposition that hasn’t tested him nor England.
In midfield England do appear to have some issues with personal as, although the shape stays the same, the players change all too often for my liking and I don’t think Southgate knows his best trio.
I’ve been banging the Harry Winks drum for the last few weeks now and I think a fit Winks is key to the England midfield and with his goal in Kosovo he showed us the other side to his game, making an excellent forward run and linking up with the front three.
So for me, work on the midfield and centre back areas is a must in the friendly’s that will be arranged pre-European championships.
*Odds subject to change
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